Cystic lesions of the pancreas (differential)

Last revised by Dr Joshua Yap on 11 Jun 2022

The differential for cystic lesions of the pancreas includes:

Retroperitoneal lesions (extrinsic to the pancreas) can mimic pancreatic cystic lesions, when close to the gland. Examples include:

Practical points

  • the American College of Radiology (ACR) published guidelines on managing incidental cystic pancreatic lesions in 2017 11
  • recent (c.2022) evidence reports that the incidence of pancreatic cancer in asymptomatic patients with cysts <2 cm is similar to background rates 14

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: pancreatic pseudocysts
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  • Case 2: solid pseudopapillary tumor
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  • Case 3: mucinous cystadenoma of pancreas
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  • Case 4: solid pseudopapillary tumor
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  • Case 5: Von Hippel-Lindau disease
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  • Case 6: pancreatic hydatid cyst
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  • Case 7: pancreatic pseudocyst
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  • Case 8: pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor - cystic
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