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To determine the optimal management of the intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) according to the morphologic type based on distinguishing between benign and malignant diseases.IPMNs are increasingly recognized clinicopathologic entity. Extended pancreatic resection with radical lymph node dissection has been recommended for treatment.A retrospective clinicopathologic study was carried out of the 57 cases with IPMNs who were treated between 1985 and 2001. Forty-three patients with IPMNs underwent resection, and 14 patients with small IPMNs were observed without resection.Among the 43 resected IPMNs, 25 were benign and 18 were malignant. Malignant tumors were significantly greater in diameter than benign tumors (52.9 vs. 30.2 mm, P < 0.05). All main duct type tumors with mural nodules were malignant. All branch duct type tumors less than 30 mm in diameter and without mural nodules were benign. Twelve branch duct type IPMNs size less than 30 mm were not resected and have not progressed.These results suggest that the branch duct type IPMNs less than 30 mm and without mural nodules is benign and might be treatable with limited resection or careful observation.