Pain management in chronic pancreatitis: A treatment algorithm

Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun;24(3):323-35. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2010.03.007.


Abdominal pain is common and frequently debilitating in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Medical therapy includes abstinence from tobacco and alcohol and the use of analgesics and adjunctive agents. In many patients, a trial of non-enteric-coated pancreatic enzymes and/or antioxidants may be tried. Endoscopic or surgical therapy requires careful patient selection based on a detailed analysis of pancreatic ductal anatomy. Those with a non-dilated main pancreatic duct have limited endoscopic and surgical alternatives. The presence of a dilated main pancreatic duct makes endoscopic or surgical therapy possible, which may include ductal decompression or pancreatic resection, or both. Randomised trials suggest surgical therapy is more durable and effective than endoscopic therapy. Less commonly employed options include EUS-guided coeliac plexus block, thoracoscopic splanchnicectomy, or total pancreatectomy with auto islet cell transplantation. These are used rarely when all other options have failed and only in very carefully selected patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Abdominal Pain / prevention & control*
  • Algorithms*
  • Analgesia* / methods
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Autonomic Denervation
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures*
  • Endoscopy*
  • Humans
  • Lithotripsy*
  • Nerve Block
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / complications
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / therapy*
  • Patient Selection
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics