Pathological and Molecular Aspects to Improve Endoscopic Ultrasonography–Guided Fine-Needle Aspiration From Solid Pancreatic Lesions

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Abstract

Endoscopic ultrasonography–guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) has been applied to pancreatic lesions since the 1990s, and its use is now widespread. Improvements in endoscopic devices and sampling techniques have resulted in excellent diagnostic ability for solid pancreatic lesions. However, clinical improvements alone are not responsible for it; pathological aspects have also played important roles. Rapid on-site evaluation minimizes endoscopic procedures, although its value at improving the diagnostic ratio is still debated. Diagnostic efficacy differs by sample preparations (direct smear, cytospin, liquid-based cytology, cell block, and biopsy) and by staining methods (Papanicoloau, Diff-Quik, hematoxylin-eosin, and Giemsa). Several immunocytochemistry protocols aid in diagnosing epithelial components with cytological atypia and in differentiating various tumor types. One cytopathology diagnostic system is telecytology, which uses transmitted digital images and enables real-time diagnosis of EUS-FNA samples by expert cytologists at remote locations. However, EUS-FNA samples are useful for more than just diagnoses, as molecular analysis of these samples allows the identification of prognostic markers, such as genetic alterations in K-ras and EGFR. Expression of drug-metabolizing enzymes, human equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1, correlates with the response to gemcitabine-based chemotherapy. These pathology efforts have enhanced the diagnostic efficacy of EUS-FNA, thereby leading to better outcomes for patients with pancreatic diseases.

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