Chronic pancreatitis: results of operations for relief of pain

World J Surg. 1990 Jan-Feb;14(1):53-8. doi: 10.1007/BF01670546.


Pancreaticojejunostomy is the method of choice for surgical treatment of pain in chronic pancreatitis in the case of ductal dilation. The operative risk is small and all remaining glandular tissue preserved. At 5 years postoperatively, about two-thirds of the patients still experience pain relief. In the absence of dilated ducts, the surgical options are somewhat more controversial. Parenchyma-saving alternatives such as nerve-cutting procedures have not met expectations. Instead, percutaneous blockage of the celiac plexus using alcohol and phenol have been more commonly used for short-term pain relief. The relatively great number of different resective procedures probably reflects the dissatisfaction with the effect of each one of them. Neither left resection nor total pancreatectomy is, today, an attractive alternative due to the relatively high mortality and morbidity (short- and long-term) risks, especially when evaluated against the backdrop of the limited pain reduction in many patients. The Whipple procedure is still the best alternative, although it should be used with critical selection by both the patient and the surgeon. As for the new operations presented during the 1980's, it is too early to foresee their possible future role. We feel, however, that we still have to await the operation which fulfills the criteria of an ideal operation for pain in chronic pancreatitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methods
  • Pain, Intractable / etiology
  • Pain, Intractable / surgery*
  • Pancreatitis / complications
  • Pancreatitis / surgery*