Thoracoscopic splanchnicolysis for the relief of chronic pancreatitis pain: experience of a group of pneumologists

Chest. 1998 Feb;113(2):528-31. doi: 10.1378/chest.113.2.528.


Intractable pain is the most invalidating symptom in patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis. Anatomical interruption of the major afferent pain nerves is indicated in severe refractory cases. Among the various techniques and sites of interruption, thoracoscopic splanchnicectomy has emerged as an efficient alternative for the more aggressive open surgical splanchnicectomy, and for the (solely temporarily efficacious) transcutaneous neural blocks, which moreover bear some serious complications. Until now, all reports on thoracoscopic splanchnicectomy were typically surgical, using video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery techniques, double-lumen intubation, and so on. In analogy with thoracoscopic upper dorsal T2-T3 sympathicolysis for essential hyperhidrosis, a simplified thoracoscopic splanchnicolysis technique used in 8 patients suffering from either severe refractory chronic pancreatitis pain (7 patients) or postsurgical epigastric pain is described. Pain control was achieved in 5 of the 7 patients with chronic pancreatitis with a short (20+/-8 min) intervention, short hospitalization (2 days), and simple (single-lumen intubation, no chest drains) procedure. Thus, this simplified thoracoscopic splanchnicolysis technique may represent a valid alternative in the often difficult treatment of refractory chronic pancreatitis pain or other upper abdominal pain.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Endoscopy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Hyperhidrosis / surgery
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Nerve Block / adverse effects
  • Nerve Block / methods
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Pain, Intractable / surgery*
  • Pain, Postoperative / surgery
  • Pancreatitis / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Medicine
  • Recurrence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Splanchnic Nerves / surgery*
  • Sympathectomy*
  • Thoracoscopy*
  • Time Factors
  • Video Recording