Autoimmune pancreatitis: Current diagnostic criteria are suboptimal

Samuel A. Giday, Mouen A. Khashab, Jonathan M. Buscaglia, Devi Mukkai Krishnamurty, Terina Chen, Anthony N. Kalloo, Marcia I. Canto, Patrick I. Okolo, Ralph H. Hruban, Sanjay B. Jagannath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Aims: The preoperative diagnosis of autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP) is difficult, given its similar clinical presentation to pancreatic cancer. The aims of the study are to describe our center's experience with AIP and apply the Japanese AIP diagnostic criteria to a cohort of patients with histologically-proven AIP in order to assess their performance characteristics. Methods: A prospective pathology database was queried for AIP patients who were evaluated and/or treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 2002 to 2009. AIP histology was defined by the presence of lymphoplasmacytic infiltration, periductal inflammation, fibrosis, and periphlebitis. Imaging, clinical, and biochemical data were analyzed. Results: Thirty patients had pancreatic resection with pathological confirmation of AIP. Imaging revealed pancreatic mass (45%), focal prominence without mass lesion (24%), diffuse enlargement (17%), and normal pancreas (14%). Twenty-four patients underwent an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and/or magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, and 4/24 (17%) had pancreatic ductal narrowing or irregularity. Extrapancreaticobiliary organ involvement was found in 6% (n=2) of patients. Biliary strictures were present in 87% of patients. Of 16 patients who underwent preoperative tissue biopsy, 10 had non-diagnostic pathology, five had cellular atypia, and one had AIP. Serum immunoglobulin G4 (IgG4) levels were elevated in 12 of 29 (41%) patients. Three (10%) patients had evidence of extrapancreatic manifestations of AIP. When applying the Japanese criteria to the 27 patients who had serum IgG4 measurement, preoperative biopsy, and cross-sectional abdominal imaging, only 44% of the patients would have been diagnosed accurately. Conclusions: When applied to a highly-selected single-center referral population in the USA, current Japanese guidelines for the diagnosis of AIP are found to have suboptimal sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)970-973
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Australia)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Autoimmune pancreatitis
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatic mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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