Background: In severe chronic pancreatitis associated with intraductal stones, therapeutic endoscopy aims to reduce increased intraductal pressure by pancreatic sphincterotomy and stone clearance.
Methods: Results of treatment were evaluated in 70 new patients who underwent pancreatic sphincterotomy and attempted stone removal. Technical results and frequency of pain relief and recurrence are compared.
Results: Complete ductal clearance of calculi was obtained in 50% of cases. Immediate clinical improvement occurred in 95% of patients with painful attacks. No severe complications or mortality occurred. Fifty-four percent of all patients with painful chronic pancreatitis did not experience any pain recurrence within 2 years. Associations found to be statistically significant by multivariate analysis were ductal clearance and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, pain disappearance and ductal clearance, pain recurrence and long evolution, and severe disease before treatment and presence of a ductal substenosis.
Conclusions: In this subset of patients our results indicate that the pain of chronic pancreatitis is mainly related to increased intraductal pressure. Endoscopic management appears to be a safe, conservative, alternative to surgery. The best results are obtained when it is performed early in the course of calcifying chronic pancreatitis.