Background: The role of endosonography in diagnosing and staging pancreatic adenocarcinoma is evolving. The aim of this review is to present recently published material comparing the performance of endosonography relative to other imaging modalities when evaluating a patient with a suspected or known carcinoma of the pancreas. Methods: Medline was searched using the terms ‘endosonography’ and ‘pancreas neoplasms’. References from retrieved papers were reviewed to identify other reports. Emphasis was placed on peer-reviewed material published within the past 3 years that included comparison with other imaging modalities. Results: Despite advances in cross-sectional imaging modalities, endosonography remains the most sensitive and specific method to identify pancreatic mass lesions. Resectability determination of pancreatic carcinoma is best done with dual-phase helical CT, although endosonography may have slightly improved accuracy for lymph node assessment. Endosonography-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy has high sensitivity (93%) and specificity (100%) when employed in patients with masses in whom pancreatic cancer is suspected but prior biopsies are negative. Conclusions: Endosonography can aid in diagnosing patients with pancreatic neoplasms through definitive inclusion or exclusion of a mass lesion as well as biopsy confirmation of malignancy. The role of endosonography in determination of resectability has been eclipsed by dual-phase helical CT.
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