Diagnostic accuracy of different imaging modalities following computed tomography (CT) scanning for assessing the resectability with curative intent in pancreatic and periampullary cancer Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Periampullary cancer includes cancer of the head and neck of the pancreas, cancer of the distal end of the bile duct, cancer of the ampulla of Vater, and cancer of the second part of the duodenum. Surgical resection is the only established potentially curative treatment for pancreatic and periampullary cancer. A considerable proportion of patients undergo unnecessary laparotomy because of underestimation of the extent of the cancer on computed tomography (CT) scanning. Other imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), PET-CT, and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) have been used to detect local invasion or distant metastases not visualised on CT scanning which could prevent unnecessary laparotomy. No systematic review or meta-analysis has examined the role of different imaging modalities in assessing the resectability with curative intent in patients with pancreatic and periampullary cancer. OBJECTIVES: To determine the diagnostic accuracy of MRI, PET scan, and EUS performed as an add-on test or PET-CT as a replacement test to CT scanning in detecting curative resectability in pancreatic and periampullary cancer. SEARCH METHODS: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, Science Citation Index Expanded, and Health Technology Assessment (HTA) databases up to 5 November 2015. Two review authors independently screened the references and selected the studies for inclusion. We also searched for articles related to the included studies by performing the "related search" function in MEDLINE (OvidSP) and Embase (OvidSP) and a "citing reference" search (by searching the articles that cite the included articles). SELECTION CRITERIA: We included diagnostic accuracy studies of MRI, PET scan, PET-CT, and EUS in patients with potentially resectable pancreatic and periampullary cancer on CT scan. We accepted any criteria of resectability used in the studies. We included studies irrespective of language, publication status, or study design (prospective or retrospective). We excluded case-control studies. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently performed data extraction and quality assessment using the QUADAS-2 (quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies - 2) tool. Although we planned to use bivariate methods for analysis of sensitivities and specificities, we were able to fit only the univariate fixed-effect models for both sensitivity and specificity because of the paucity of data. We calculated the probability of unresectability in patients who had a positive index test (post-test probability of unresectability in people with a positive test result) and in those with negative index test (post-test probability of unresectability in people with a positive test result) using the mean probability of unresectability (pre-test probability) from the included studies and the positive and negative likelihood ratios derived from the model. The difference between the pre-test and post-test probabilities gave the overall added value of the index test compared to the standard practice of CT scan staging alone. MAIN RESULTS: Only two studies (34 participants) met the inclusion criteria of this systematic review. Both studies evaluated the diagnostic test accuracy of EUS in assessing the resectability with curative intent in pancreatic cancers. There was low concerns about applicability for most domains in both studies. The overall risk of bias was low in one study and unclear or high in the second study. The mean probability of unresectable disease after CT scan across studies was 60.5% (that is 61 out of 100 patients who had resectable cancer after CT scan had unresectable disease on laparotomy). The summary estimate of sensitivity of EUS for unresectability was 0.87 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.54 to 0.97) and the summary estimate of specificity for unresectability was 0.80 (95% CI 0.40 to 0.96). The positive likelihood ratio and negative likelihood ratio were 4.3 (95% CI 1.0 to 18.6) and 0.2 (95% CI 0.0 to 0.8) respectively. At the mean pre-test probability of 60.5%, the post-test probability of unresectable disease for people with a positive EUS (EUS indicating unresectability) was 86.9% (95% CI 60.9% to 96.6%) and the post-test probability of unresectable disease for people with a negative EUS (EUS indicating resectability) was 20.0% (5.1% to 53.7%). This means that 13% of people (95% CI 3% to 39%) with positive EUS have potentially resectable cancer and 20% (5% to 53%) of people with negative EUS have unresectable cancer. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Based on two small studies, there is significant uncertainty in the utility of EUS in people with pancreatic cancer found to have resectable disease on CT scan. No studies have assessed the utility of EUS in people with periampullary cancer.There is no evidence to suggest that it should be performed routinely in people with pancreatic cancer or periampullary cancer found to have resectable disease on CT scan.


  • Tamburrino, Domenico
  • Riviere, Deniece
  • Yaghoobi, Mohammad
  • Davidson, Brian R
  • Gurusamy, Kurinchi Selvan

publication date

  • September 15, 2016