Introduction: Pancreatic duct stones are found in 22 to 60% of patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP). The stones can lead to obstruction of the outflow of pancreatic secretions causing increased intraductal pressure. The pancreas is relatively noncompliant. Therefore the rise in intraductal pressure can induce tissue hypertension and ischemia. This can be a major factor causing pain in patients with CP. This hypothesis is supported by the observation that symptoms may improve following pancreatic duct drainage.
Case presentation: A 62-year-old woman presented with persistent epigastric pain. Investigations revealed calcifications within the main pancreatic duct and head of the gland. Treatment with endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) achieved a good outcome.
Conclusion: Standard endoscopic removal of the stones proved impossible so treatment with ESWL was undertaken. Following fragmentation, the calculi and fragments passed spontaneously or were removed endoscopically. If pancreatic stones cannot be removed endoscopically, ESWL should be considered prior to surgery.