Surgical treatment of chronic pancreatitis and quality of life after operation

Surg Clin North Am. 1999 Aug;79(4):913-44. doi: 10.1016/s0039-6109(05)70051-7.


In conclusion, surgical therapy in patients with chronic pancreatitis may be characterized as follows: 1. Independently, several investigators have found intraductal and intraparenchymatous hypertension in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Decompression of the ductal system as the main principle of surgical therapy achieves clinical pain relief in most patients with chronic pancreatitis. The precondition is a consequent drainage of the main pancreatic duct and tributary ducts of second and third order up to the prepapillary region. The presence of an inflammatory tumor in the head of the pancreas or ductal abnormalities in the prepapillary region or a pancreas divisum requires performance of an extended drainage operation (LPJ-LPHE) to achieve pain relief and an improved quality of life. An extended drainage operation effectively manages complications arising from adjacent organs, such as distal common bile duct stenosis, segmental duodenal stenosis, and internal pancreatic fistulas. The extent of decompression has to be tailored to the anatomic and morphologic situation of the patient. 2. In patients with chronic pancreatitis, the main pancreatic duct is usually dilated. A small duct (3-5 mm) is only small for the surgeon. For the sclerosing entity of chronic pancreatitis with a truly small duct, that is, less than 3 mm in diameter ("small duct disease"), a longitudinal V-shaped excision of the ventral pancreas, as opposed to left resection, provides a new perspective for a sufficient drainage. 3. In the presence of segmental portal hypertension, a simple or extended drainage operation does not result in a normalization of the portal venous blood flow; however, how often relevant upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage develops from segmental portal hypertension is unclear. Therefore, the clinical relevance of this special problem needs further evaluation. 4. Postoperative morbidity of LPJ-LPHE is significantly lower in comparison to resectional procedures, such as PD, PPPD, and DPRHP. A lower perioperative mortality rate is not justified anymore as a relevant criterion in favor of drainage procedures because resectional procedures are burdened by a minimal or no mortality in experienced centers; however, PD and PPPD are greatly hampered by a significantly decreased postoperative global quality of life as opposed to the LPJ-LPHE. This is reflected by a significantly lower rate of social and professional rehabilitation. 5. The incidence of exocrine and endocrine organ dysfunction is lower after LPJ-LPHE compared with PD or PPPD, but not compared with DPRHP. Preservation of the gastroduodenal passage and the continuity of the bile duct with its associated feedback mechanisms of exocrine pancreatic secretion and glucose metabolism seem to be responsible for this phenomenon. 6. An early surgical or endoscopic interventional drainage of the hypertensive pancreatic duct system possibly offers the chance to favorably manipulate the natural course of chronic pancreatitis with regard to a delayed onset of exocrine or endocrine insufficiency. 7. Late mortality reflects continued alcohol abuse rather than the effect of an operative procedure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pain, Intractable / etiology
  • Pain, Intractable / surgery
  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy
  • Pancreaticojejunostomy
  • Pancreatitis / complications
  • Pancreatitis / surgery*
  • Patient Selection
  • Quality of Life*
  • Treatment Outcome