Contrast-enhanced sonography of nonfunctioning pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors

Roberto Malagò, Mirko D'Onofrio, Giulia A. Zamboni, Niccolò Faccioli, Massimo Falconi, Letizia Boninsegna, Roberto Pozzi Mucelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE. Diagnosis of malignancy and prognostic assessment continue to be problems in the management of nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors. Histologic examination is the reference standard. The aim of our study was to compare B-mode and contrast-enhanced sonographic findings regarding nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors. Signs of malignancy, such as Ki67 index and presence of hepatic metastasis, were considered. MATERIALS AND METHODS. We retrospectively reviewed the cases of 38 consecutively registered patients with nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors evaluated with Bmode and contrast-enhanced sonography and resected. At contrast-enhanced sonography all lesions were divided into hypovascular lesions and isovascular or hypervascular lesions. On the basis of homogeneity of enhancement, lesions were classified as homogeneous and inhomogeneous. During the late phase of contrast enhancement, all solid focal hypoechoic liver lesions detected at contrast-enhanced sonography were considered hepatic metastatic lesions. Among pathologic data, grading, mitotic index, and Ki67 index were evaluated. Spearman's test was used to compare contrast-enhanced sonographic enhancement pattern with pathologic grade. RESULTS. In the arterial phase, 24 of 38 nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors (63.1%) were hypervascular, seven (18.4%) were isovascular, and seven (18.4%) were hypovascular. Positive correlation was found between contrast-enhanced sonographic findings and Ki67 index (rs = 0.62; p <0.0001). The difference between contrast-enhanced and B-mode sonography in the diagnosis of nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors was statistically significant (p <0.05). Use of contrast-enhanced sonography increased diagnostic confidence in the detection of hepatic metastasis. The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves were 0.916 for B-mode sonography and 1.000 for contrast-enhanced sonography (p <0.05). There was moderate positive correlation between contrast-enhanced sonographic enhancement pattern and the presence of hepatic metastasis at diagnosis (rs = 0.46; p = 0.004) and between Ki67 index and the presence of hepatic metastasis (rs = 0.48; p = 0.0022). CONCLUSION. The contrast-enhanced sonographic enhancement pattern of nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors has a positive correlation with Ki67 index, which is considered the most reliable independent predictor of the presence of malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-430
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


  • Contrast-enhanced sonography
  • Nonfunctioning endocrine tumor
  • Pancreas
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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