Teardrop sign (superior mesenteric vein)

Last revised by Khalid Alhusseiny on 14 Jun 2023

The teardrop sign of the superior mesenteric vein is one of the important signs in the local staging of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Its importance lies in its diagnostic, as well as prognostic, significance. This sign is used in assessing the resectability of pancreatic cancer.

Radiographic features


In pancreatic head carcinomas, local invasion occurs with encasement of the portal vein and its main tributary, the superior mesenteric vein (SMV). This tethering of the mass to the superior mesenteric vein produces a teardrop appearance of SMV. The presence of the sign indicates the likely non-resectability of the tumor.

See also

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Cases and figures

  • Pancreatic adenocarcinoma
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