Pancreatic Cysts

Pancreatic Cysts

The pancreas is a flattened organ (about 6 inches long) situated between the stomach and the vertebral column. The head of the pancreas is situated in the C of the duodenum and opens into it. Cysts in the pancreas may be benign (pancreatic cyst or pseudocyst) or cancerous (malignant pancreatic cyst).

Causative & risk factors

Benign pancreatic cysts may result after an attack of pancreatitis or due to external trauma to the pancreas.

Cancerous cysts may occur as a result of genetic mutations.


Clinical presentation

In most cases pancreatic cysts do not produce any symptoms. Symptoms when produced may include severe pain, tenderness and distension of the abdomen. A palpable mass may be felt over the abdomen. Accompanying symptoms like nausea, vomiting or anorexia may be present.

Complications include infection, obstruction, bleeding or rupture of the cyst.



Pancreatic cysts are usually diagnosed accidentally on imaging studies like USG, CT or MRI scan of the abdomen.

An endoscopic ultrasound can be performed to differentiate between the types of cyst and aspirate the fluid within for analysis.

ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) can be performed to visualize the bile ducts in detail.



A pancreatic cyst that does not produce symptoms will not require any treatment except careful monitoring with regular imaging test. Large or complicated pancreatic cysts need to be drained. Drainage of the cyst can be done endoscopically, through a percutaneous catheter or via laparoscopic surgery.

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