Background: Pancreas divisum is the most common congenital variant of the pancreas; however, its clinical significance remains controversial. The purpose of our study was to determine the role of pancreas divisum in the development of chronic pancreatitis.
Methods: We compared the clinical presentation, morphological findings, and course of disease of 30 patients with chronic pancreatitis associated with pancreas divisum (there was coexisting chronic alcohol abuse in 18 cases) to those of 57 patients with chronic pancreatitis and no evidence of pancreas divisum (15 with nonalcoholic pancreatitis and 42 with alcoholic pancreatitis).
Results: Sex distribution, age at onset of disease, clinical presentation, course of disease, and frequency of complications were not affected by the presence of pancreas divisum. Although the etiology of pancreatitis in patients with pancreas divisum may be attributed to impaired drainage of the majority of the gland through the minor papilla, we observed a relatively low frequency of isolated dorsal duct involvement in our patients irrespective of alcohol use (25% and 28% in patients with and without a history of alcohol abuse, respectively). However, involvement of the ventral duct was commonly observed (75% and 72%, respectively).
Conclusions: The presence of pancreas divisum in our study did not modify the natural course of chronic nonalcoholic or alcoholic pancreatitis. Pancreas divisum is not likely to play a dominant role in the etiopathogenesis of chronic pancreatitis.