Purpose of review: We review important new clinical observations in chronic pancreatitis made in the past year.
Recent findings: Tropical pancreatitis associates with SPINK1 and/or CFTR gene mutations in approximately 50% of patients, similar to the frequency in idiopathic chronic pancreatitis. Corticosteroids increase secretin-stimulated pancreatic bicarbonate concentrations in autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP) by restoring mislocalized CFTR protein to the apical ductal membrane. Most patients with asymptomatic hyperenzymemia have pancreatic lesions of unclear significance or no pancreatic lesions. Common pitfalls in the use of diagnostic tests for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) confound interpretation of findings in irritable bowel syndrome and severe renal insufficiency. Further study is needed to improve the accuracy of endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) to diagnose chronic pancreatitis. Celiac plexus block provides short-term pain relief in a subset of patients.
Summary: Results of this year's investigations further elucidated the genetic associations of tropical pancreatitis, a reversible mislocalization of ductal CFTR in AIP, the association of asymptomatic pancreatic hyperenzymemia with pancreatic disorders, limitations of diagnostic tests for EPI, diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis by EUS and endoscopic pancreatic function testing and treatment of pain.