Chronic pancreatitis: an overview of diagnosis and management

Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Jul;14(7):515-526. doi: 10.1080/17474124.2020.1774365. Epub 2020 Jun 8.


Introduction: Chronic pancreatitis entails a heavy burden on the healthcare system because of its often protracted evolution, requiring complex diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Areas covered: This review focuses on novel imaging and endoscopic diagnostic and therapeutic interventions that have changed the management of patients with chronic pancreatitis. We have conducted an extensive search of original papers and guidelines, in order to provide a comprehensive and up to date review of available evidence in these areas of interest.

Expert opinion: The traditional challenges in managing chronic pancreatitis patients stemmed from the limitations of diagnostic modalities, which could not correctly identify patients in an early stage of the disease, as well as from the scarcity of therapeutic options available. Advances in imaging of CT-scan, MRI, and EUS have opened the way for early diagnosis and staging. This has allowed more aggressive and tailored therapeutic modalities, particularly in endoscopic therapy and minimally invasive surgical interventions. Although high-quality data from large RCTs is still scarce, evidence-based algorithms for diagnosis and therapy are now changing the way we address this chronic disease. In the near future, we can expect a tailored approach based on patient and disease-related predictive factors, relying on a vast armamentarium of endoscopic and surgical solutions.

Keywords: Chronic pancreatitis; endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography; endoscopic stenting; endoscopic ultrasound; magnetic resonance imaging; pain management; surgery.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Endosonography
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / therapy*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed