EUS – Fine- Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB) in the Diagnosis of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma: A Review

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Solid masses of the pancreas represent a variety of benign and malignant neoplasms of the exocrine and endocrine tissues of the pancreas. A tissue diagnosis is often required to direct therapy in the face of uncertain diagnosis or if the patient is not a surgical candidate either due to advanced disease or comorbidities. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a relatively new technology that employs endoscopy and high-frequency ultrasound (US). EUS involves imaging of the pancreatic head and the uncinate from the duodenum and imaging of the body and tail from the stomach. It has been shown to be a highly sensitive method for the detection of pancreatic masses. It is superior to extracorporeal US and computed tomographic (CT) scans, especially when the pancreatic tumor is smaller than 2-3 cm. Although EUS is highly sensitive in detecting pancreatic solid masses, its ability to differentiate between inflammatory masses and malignant disease is limited. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) brushing, CT-guided biopsies, and transabdominal ultrasound (US) have been the standard nonsurgical methods for obtaining a tissue diagnosis of pancreatic lesions, but a substantial false-negative rate has been reported. Transabdominal US-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy (US-FNAB) has been used for tissue diagnosis in patients with suspected pancreatic carcinoma. It has been shown to be highly specific, with no false-positive diagnoses. With the advent of curvilinear echoendoscopes, transgastric and transduodenal EUS-FNAB of the pancreas have become a reality EUS with FNAB has revolutionized the ability to diagnose and stage cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and assess the pancreas. Gastrointestinal cancers can be looked at with EUS and their depth of penetration into the intestinal wall can be determined. Any suspicious appearing lymph nodes can be biopsied using EUS/FNAB. The pancreas is another organ that is well visualized with EUS. Abnormalities such as tumors and cysts of the pancreas can be carefully evaluated using EUS and then biopsied with FNAB. There are many new applications of EUS using FNAB. Researchers are looking to deliver chemotherapeutics into small pancreatic cancers and cysts. Nerve blocks using EUS/FNAB to inject numbing medicines into the celiac ganglia, a major nerve cluster, are now routinely performed in patients with pain due to pancreatic cancer. The aim of this study is to perform a review of the literature regarding the usefulness of EUS/FNAB in the diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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