Pancreatic cysts are diagnosed with increasing frequency because of the widespread use of cross-sectional imaging. Pancreatic cysts may be detected in over 2 percent of patients who undergo abdominal imaging with multidetector row computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging for unrelated reasons, and this frequency increases with age [1,2].
Pancreatic cysts can either be neoplastic (eg, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms) or non-neoplastic. Accurate cyst categorization is important since non-neoplastic cysts require treatment only if symptomatic, whereas some of the pancreatic cystic neoplasms have significant malignant potential and should be resected.
This topic will review the classification of pancreatic cysts. An overview of pancreatic cystic neoplasms and issues related to pancreatic pseudocysts and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms of the pancreas are discussed separately:
TYPES OF PANCREATIC CYSTS
Cystic lesions of the pancreas can be divided pathologically into pseudocysts, non-neoplastic pancreatic cysts, and pancreatic cystic neoplasms (PCNs). Rarely, solid pancreatic tumors may also present as a pancreatic cyst (eg, islet cell tumor). Most pancreatic cysts are detected incidentally when abdominal imaging is performed for some other indication . PCNs account for more than half of pancreatic cysts, even in patients with a history of pancreatitis [3,4].