PanIN or IPMN? Redefining Lesion Size in 3 Dimensions


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) develops from 2 known precursor lesions: a majority (∼85%) develops from pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN), and a minority develops from intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs). Clinical classification of PanIN and IPMN relies on a combination of low-resolution, 3-dimensional (D) imaging (computed tomography, CT), and high-resolution, 2D imaging (histology). The definitions of PanIN and IPMN currently rely heavily on size. IPMNs are defined as macroscopic: generally textgreater1.0 cm and visible in CT, and PanINs are defined as microscopic: generally textless0.5 cm and not identifiable in CT. As 2D evaluation fails to take into account 3D structures, we hypothesized that this classification would fail in evaluation of high-resolution, 3D images. To characterize the size and prevalence of PanINs in 3D, 47 thick slabs of pancreas were harvested from grossly normal areas of pancreatic resections, excluding samples from individuals with a diagnosis of an IPMN. All patients but one underwent preoperative CT scans. Through construction of cellular resolution 3D maps, we identified textgreater1400 ductal precursor lesions that met the 2D histologic size criteria of PanINs. We show that, when 3D space is considered, 25 of these lesions can be digitally sectioned to meet the 2D histologic size criterion of IPMN. Re-evaluation of the preoperative CT images of individuals found to possess these large precursor lesions showed that nearly half are visible on imaging. These findings demonstrate that the clinical classification of PanIN and IPMN fails in evaluation of high-resolution, 3D images, emphasizing the need for re-evaluation of classification guidelines that place significant weight on 2D assessment of 3D structures.

The American Journal of Surgical Pathology

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Toby C. Cornish
Toby C. Cornish
Professor of Pathology and Data Science Institute

Clinical informaticist, gastrointestinal pathologist, and researcher.