Treatment options in painful chronic pancreatitis: a systematic review

HPB (Oxford). 2014 Jun;16(6):512-21. doi: 10.1111/hpb.12173. Epub 2013 Aug 29.


Background: Longlasting and unbearable pain is the most common and striking symptom of chronic pancreatitis. Accordingly, pain relief and improvement in patients' quality of life are the primary goals in the treatment of this disease. This systematic review aims to summarize the available data on treatment options.

Methods: A systematic search of MEDLINE/PubMed and the Cochrane Library was performed according to the PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analysis. The search was limited to randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses. Reference lists were then hand-searched for additional relevant titles. The results obtained were examined individually by two independent investigators for further selection and data extraction.

Results: A total of 416 abstracts were reviewed, of which 367 were excluded because they were obviously irrelevant or represented overlapping studies. Consequently, 49 full-text articles were systematically reviewed.

Conclusions: First-line medical options include the provision of pain medication, adjunctive agents and pancreatic enzymes, and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. If medical treatment fails, endoscopic treatment offers pain relief in the majority of patients in the short term. However, current data suggest that surgical treatment seems to be superior to endoscopic intervention because it is significantly more effective and, especially, lasts longer.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Endoscopy* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Management* / adverse effects
  • Pain Management* / methods
  • Pancreatectomy* / adverse effects
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / complications
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome