Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) is a spectrum of neoplasia in the pancreatic duct epithelium characterized by cystic dilation of the main and/or branch pancreatic duct. According to the site of involvement IPMNs are classified into three categories, i.e., main duct type, branch duct type, and combined type. Most branch duct IPMNs are benign, whereas the other two types are often malignant. A large size of branch duct IPMN and marked dilation of the main pancreatic duct indicate the presence of adenoma at least. The additional existence of large mural nodules increases the possibility of malignancy in all types. Of recent interest is the relatively high prevalence of synchronous and/or metachronous malignancy in various organs, including the pancreas. The prognosis is favorable after complete resection of benign and noninvasive malignant IPMNs. Malignant IPMNs acquiring aggressiveness after parenchymal invasion necessitate adequate lymph node dissection. On the other hand, asymptomatic branch duct IPMNs without mural nodules can be observed without resection for a considerably long time. This review addresses available data, current understanding, controversy, and future directions.
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