Update on diagnosis and management of chronic pancreatitis

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 1999 Apr;1(2):145-53. doi: 10.1007/s11894-996-0014-8.


Chronic pancreatitis should be considered in all patients with unexplained abdominal pain. The importance of small duct disease without obvious radiographic abnormalities is an important new concept. It is meaningful for the clinician to define whether the patient with chronic pancreatitis has small duct or large duct disease. Diagnostic evaluations should begin with a simple, noninvasive, inexpensive test such as serum trypsinogen, to be followed by more complicated testing such as the secretin stimulation test, particularly in those patients with small duct disease. Non-enteric-coated pancreatic enzyme preparations are preferred for the treatment of pain whereas enteric-coated pancreatic enzyme preparations are the drugs of choice for treating steatorrhea. Octreotide may become an important therapy for treating abdominal pain unresponsive to pancreatic enzyme therapy. Endoscopic treatment of the pain of chronic pancreatitis should be used only in highly selected patients and may cause damage to the pancreas. Surgical ductal decompression is appropriate in selected patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Function Tests
  • Pancreatitis / diagnosis
  • Pancreatitis / etiology
  • Pancreatitis / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome