Electrophysiology as a tool to unravel the origin of pancreatic pain

World J Gastrointest Pathophysiol. 2014 Feb 15;5(1):33-9. doi: 10.4291/wjgp.v5.i1.33.


Intense abdominal pain is the most common symptom in chronic pancreatitis, but the underlying mechanisms are not completely understood and pain management remains a significant clinical challenge. The focus of pain origin in chronic pancreatitis traditionally has been on the pancreatic gland, assuming pain to originate in the pancreas or its surrounding organs. However, research in the last decade points to abnormal central nervous system pain processing. For this reason, electroencephalography has been receiving increasing attention. In contrast to imaging methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography, electroencephalogram has excellent temporal resolution making it possible to investigate central processing of pain on a millisecond time scale. Moreover, continuously advancing methodology made it possible to explore brain sources responsible for generation of evoked potentials and hence to study brain reorganization due to pain in chronic pancreatitis. The aim of this review is to give an overview of the current methods and findings in electroencephalography as a tool to unravel the origin of pancreatic pain.

Keywords: Brain source localization; Chronic pain; Chronic pancreatitis; Electroencephalography frequency analysis; Electrophysiology; Evoked potentials; Pancreatic pain; Visceral pain.

Publication types

  • Review