Update on pancreatic cyst fluid analysis

Authors Matthew Rockacy, Asif Khalid.


Pancreatic cystic lesions (PCL) may be incidentally detected in up to 13.5% of patients. These represent a wide variety of lesions including mucinous cysts [intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN) and mucinous cystic neoplasms (MCN)] that have malignant potential. The difficulty in identifying the various PCL and their unpredictable potential for malignant degeneration makes their management cumbersome. The current diagnostic evaluation of PCL often includes EUS-guided fine needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) for cyst fluid analysis. Cyst fluid can be analyzed for tumor markers, cytology, mucins, DNA analysis and amylase. Pancreatic cyst CEA level is considered the most accurate tumor marker for diagnosing mucinous cysts. Approximately 0.2 to 1.0 mL of cyst fluid is required to run the test and a cut-off of 192 ng/mL can be expected to capture ~75% of mucinous cysts. The presence of a KRAS mutation is very specific for a mucinous cyst but lacks sensitivity. Cytology is especially helpful in diagnosing malignancy typically in the presence of a solid component in the cyst. Newer markers to improve diagnostic accuracy are on the horizon, but clinical studies are awaited.

Keywords Pancreatic cysts; IPMN, EUS, KRAS

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