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Preoperative computed tomography measurements of pancreatic steatosis and visceral fat: prognostic markers for dissemination and lethality of pancreatic adenocarcinoma


  • This paper was presented at the Ninth World Congress of the International Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association, 18–22 April 2010, Buenos Aires.

Alexander Rosemurgy, Tampa General Medical Group 409 Bayshore Blvd. Tampa FL 33606. Tel: 1813 844 5544. Fax: 1813 84 5565. E-mail:


Background:  Increased visceral fat and pancreatic steatosis promote lymphatic metastases and decreased survival in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma after pancreatoduodenectomy (PD).

Objectives:  We aim to determine the utility of preoperative computed tomography (CT) measurements of pancreatic steatosis and visceral fat as prognostic indicators in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Methods:  High-resolution CT scans of 42 patients undergoing PD for pancreatic adenocarcinoma were reviewed. Attenuation in CT of the pancreas, liver and spleen were measured in Hounsfield units and scored by two blinded investigators. Perirenal adipose tissue was measured in mm.

Results:  Lymphatic metastases were present in 57% of patients. Age, gender, tumour size and margin status were similar in patients with and without nodal metastases. Node-positive patients had increased visceral but not subcutaneous fat pads compared with node-negative patients and decreased CT attenuation of the pancreatic body and tail and liver. Node-positive patients stratified by visceral adiposity (≥10 mm vs. <10 mm) demonstrated poorer survival (7 ± 1 months vs. 16 ± 2 months; P < 0.01).

Conclusions:  In resected pancreatic adenocarcinoma, increased pancreatic steatosis and increased visceral fat stores are associated with lymphatic metastases. Furthermore, increased visceral fat is associated with abbreviated survival in patients with lymphatic metastases. Hence, increased visceral fat may be a causative factor of abbreviated survival and serves a prognostic role in patients with pancreatic malignancies.

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