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Pancreatic Cysts

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What are Pancreatic Cysts?

Pancreatic cysts are sacs filled with fluids that develop in the pancreas, they can sometimes cause complications. They are often only discovered when an individual undergoes imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography scans (CT-scans), for other unrelated medical conditions.

There are two main types of pancreatic cysts: neoplastic cysts (mucinous)and non-neoplastic cysts.

The difference is the type of fluid within them.. Most pancreatic cysts are benign or non-cancerous but some are malignant or cancerous.

What are the causes of Pancreatic Cysts?

The main causes of pancreatic cysts are still unknown and poorly understood. However, there are a few factors such as:
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease, where tumours develop on multiple organs
  • Pancreatitis
  • Abdominal injury
  • Pancreatic cancer

What are the symptoms of Pancreatic Cysts?

Most of the time, pancreatic cysts do not cause any symptoms. They are often only discovered when imaging is used for other unrelated medical conditions. However, if you do have symptoms, this is what to look out for:

  • Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling full after small meals

Who is at risk of Pancreatic Cysts in Singapore?

Individuals with the following factors have an increased risk of pancreatic cysts:

  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallbladder/bile duct stones
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Abdominal injury

How are Pancreatic Cysts diagnosed?

The following tests can be used to diagnose:

  • Ultrasound: sound waves are used to produce images of the structures within your body. It is a non-invasive procedure used to identify any anomalies within the pancreas such as a pancreatic cyst.
  • Computed tomography scans (CT-scans): non-invasive diagnostic imaging tool that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional, horizontal, or axial images of the body.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): allows for a better, all rounded view of your pancreas and surrounding organs.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound: used to identify any abnormalities within or near the pancreas.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP): combination of x-rays and an upper gastrointestinal tract endoscopy to identify or treat problems with the pancreatic or bile ducts. This test is rarely used for pancreatic cyst

What are the treatment options for Pancreatic Cysts in Singapore?

Benign pancreatic cysts usually do not need any therapy. This is particularly true for cysts less than 3cm in size, monitoring is recommended2. However, if pancreatic cysts are large (>3cm) or are noted to grow in size, the following treatment options is available:

  • Surgical resection: removal of the pancreatic cyst.

Frequently asked questions

Can pancreatic cysts go away on its own?
No , most cyst that enlarge need surgery.

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    We treat all types of gastrointestinal conditions and specialise in performing endoscopic procedures such as Advanced Endoscopy, ERCP and EUS
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    6A Napier Road, Annexe Block #05-35C Gleneagles Hospital
    Singapore 258500
    820 Thomson Road, #06-07 Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A Singapore 574623

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