Pitfalls in the MDCT of pancreatic cancer: strategies for minimizing errors

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) is a widely used cross-sectional imaging modality for initial evaluation of patients with suspected pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, diagnosis of PDAC can be challenging due to numerous pitfalls associated with image acquisition and interpretation, including technical factors, imaging features, and cognitive errors. Accurate diagnosis requires familiarity with these pitfalls, as these can be minimized using systematic strategies. Suboptimal acquisition protocols and other technical errors such as motion artifacts and incomplete anatomical coverage increase the risk of misdiagnosis. Interpretation of images can be challenging due to intrinsic tumor features (including small and isoenhancing masses, exophytic masses, subtle pancreatic duct irregularities, and diffuse tumor infiltration), presence of coexisting pathology (including chronic pancreatitis and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm), mimickers of PDAC (including focal fatty infiltration and focal pancreatitis), distracting findings, and satisfaction of search. Awareness of pitfalls associated with the diagnosis of PDAC along with the strategies to avoid them will help radiologists to minimize technical and interpretation errors. Cognizance and mitigation of these errors can lead to earlier PDAC diagnosis and ultimately improve patient prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-478
Number of pages22
JournalAbdominal Radiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Diagnosis
  • Diagnostic errors
  • Multidetector computed tomography
  • Pancreas
  • Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology


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