Background and study aims: Endoscopic pancreatic stent drainage has been reported to relieve pain due to chronic pancreatitis in patients with ductal outflow obstruction. However, data regarding the long-term results, as presented here, have hitherto been lacking.
Patients and methods: Over a nine-year period, 93 patients (65 males, mean age 49 years) with narcotic-dependent pain due to chronic pancreatitis and with a dominant pancreatic duct stricture visualized by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), were treated by stent drainage. The duration of pain prior to treatment averaged 5.6 years. The stents were exchanged according to symptoms, and removed if the stricture was judged to be adequately dilated after stenting.
Results: Sixty-nine patients (74%) reported complete (n = 46) or partial (n = 23) pain relief at six months. In this group of "early responders", 60 patients experienced sustained improvement during a mean follow-up of 4.9 years (nine had recurrent pain after a mean of 1.2 years). Stents were removed in 49 patients after a mean of 15.7 months; during a mean follow-up of 3.8 years, 36 patients remained pain-free, and 13 had a relapse of pain (11 were retreated by endoscopic drainage and subsequently became pain-free). Complications seen included mild pancreatitis (n = 4) and abscess formation secondary to stent clogging (n = 2). Most patients experienced a regression of the ductal dilation after stenting.
Conclusion: In selected patients, early responders to pancreatic stent drainage are likely to benefit over the long term. Stent removal after stricture dilation may be associated with continued pain relief.