Preoperative biopsy for suspected adenocarcinoma of the pancreatic head: yield and complications

Nadav Nevo, Niv Pencovich*, Yonatan Lessing, Rinat Lasmanovich, Sophie Barnes, Guy Lahat, Ido Nachmany, Joseph M. Klausner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Histologic confirmation before pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) for suspected pancreatic cancer is often performed. We assessed the yield of preoperative biopsy in these patients considering the associated complications. Methods: We retrospectively evaluated 216 patients that underwent PD for suspected carcinoma (CA) between 2012 and 2018. Post procedure complications and delay in surgery were assessed, as well as the postoperative diagnosis in relation to preoperative parameters. Results: Preoperative biopsy was performed in 142 patients (65.7%). Pathologic findings suggestive of CA were found in 106 (74.6%), while benign histology was found in 23 (16.1%), and non-diagnostic findings in 12 (8.4%). Seventyfour patients (34.3%) were operated without a preoperative biopsy. The time from diagnosis to surgery was significantly prolonged in those that underwent biopsy compared to patients that were taken straight to surgery (40±14 versus 18±15 days, P<0.001), and 18 patients (12.6%) suffered from clinically significant post procedure complications. Patients with a preoperative biopsy suggestive of CA, and those that were operated without a preoperative histologic confirmation had comparable rates of CA as a final pathological diagnosis (95.2% and 94.5%, respectively). Nevertheless, in patients with a benign or a non-diagnostic biopsy, the rates of pathologic diagnosis of CA were 69.6% and 73.6% respectively. Elevated levels of CA19-9 and a positive preoperative biopsy were associated with a final pathology of CA. Conclusions: Preoperative histology is not uniformly required in patients with suspected pancreatic cancer. If preop- erative biopsy is performed, benign histology does not rule out cancer but warrants additional evaluation prior to surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-123
Number of pages6
JournalMinerva Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Pancreas
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy


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