Published online Apr 28, 2011. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i16.2076
Revised: January 29, 2011
Accepted: February 5, 2011
Published online: April 28, 2011
Autoimmune pancreatitis is a disease characterized by specific pathological features, different from those of other forms of pancreatitis, that responds dramatically to steroid therapy. The pancreatic parenchyma may be diffusely or focally involved with the possibility of a low-density mass being present at imaging, mimicking pancreatic cancer. Clinically, the most relevant problems lie in the diagnosis of autoimmune pancreatitis and in distinguishing autoimmune pancreatitis from pancreatic cancer. Since in the presence of a pancreatic mass the probability of tumour is much higher than that of pancreatitis, the physician should be aware that in focal autoimmune pancreatitis the first step before using steroids is to exclude pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In this review, we briefly analyse the strategies to be followed for a correct diagnosis of autoimmune pancreatitis.