Current approach to the surgical management of chronic pancreatitis

Hung S Ho, C. F. Frey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The indications for surgical intervention in chronic pancreatitis are suspicion of malignancy, local complications, and intractable pain. Chronic pancreatitis is a risk factor for development of pancreatic carcinoma, and carcinomas may present initially with a clinical picture of chronic pancreatitis. Local complications of chronic pancreatitis such as common bile duct or duodenal obstruction and enlarging or symptomatic pseudocyst also mandate surgical intervention. Thrombosis of the splenic vein with left-sided portal hypertension is common and associated with a 10% incidence of gastric variceal hemorrhage, which requires splenectomy. The role of surgery in the management of pain associated with chronic pancreatitis is to provide relief. When the pain interferes substantially with the patient's quality of life or narcotics are required for pain relief, surgical intervention is indicated. Other factors that should be incorporated in assessing the need for surgical intervention are malnutrition due to the inability to eat or malabsorption, the need for frequent hospitalization, and the inability to work. The operation selected for chronic pancreatitis should correct or deal with all structural abnormalities, provide long-term pain relief, have a low mortality and morbidity rate, minimize subsequent exocrine and endocrine insufficiency, and have results independent of abstinence from alcohol. No single operation can provide an optimal solution to the management of pain or these diverse complications of chronic pancreatitis. The operation chosen must be individualized to treat the patient's needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-136
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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