Chronic pancreatitis

Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2010 Sep;26(5):490-8. doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e32833d11b2.


Purpose of review: We review important new clinical observations in chronic pancreatitis made in the past year.

Recent findings: Cigarette smoking is a dose-dependent risk factor for acute pancreatitis, recurrent acute pancreatitis, and chronic pancreatitis. A minority of chronic alcohol consumers develop recurrent acute pancreatitis but very heavy drinking associates with chronic pancreatitis. More patients with alcohol-induced chronic pancreatitis have cirrhosis than patients with cirrhosis have chronic pancreatitis (39 vs. 18%). Most patients with asymptomatic hyperenzymemia have no pancreatic lesions. Pancreatic calcifications are most frequently due to chronic pancreatitis, followed by cystic neoplasms and other disorders. The new Rosemont consensus classification of endoscopic ultrasonography criteria for chronic pancreatitis is unvalidated. Zinc deficiency correlates only with severe chronic pancreatitis and the fecal elastase test is an inaccurate marker of pancreatic steatorrhea. Patients commonly receive insufficient lipase to abolish pancreatic steatorrhea. Ultrastructural neuropathies are common to chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer and correlate with pain severity.

Summary: Results of this year's investigations further elucidated risk factors for pancreatic disease, the natural history of alcoholic pancreatitis, the differential diagnosis of pancreatic calcifications, the diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis with the Rosemont criteria, the limited diagnostic utility of fecal elastate test and zinc measurements, the proper dosing of pancreatic enzyme supplements, and treatment of pancreatic pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic* / diagnosis
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic* / epidemiology
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic* / etiology
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors