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Surgical treatment of chronic pancreatitis.

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  • 1Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Department of Surgery, UCLA School of Medicine, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, 72-226 CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Debilitating abdominal or back pain remains the most common indication for surgery in patients with chronic pancreatitis. The surgical approach to chronic pancreatitis should be individualized based on pancreatic and ductal anatomy, pain characteristics, baseline exocrine and endocrine function, and medical co-morbidity. No single approach is ideal for all patients with chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatic ductal drainage with pancreaticojejunostomy targets patients with a dilated pancreatic duct and produces good early postoperative pain relief; however, 30%-50% of patients experience recurrent symptoms at 5 years. Resection for chronic pancreatitis should be considered (1) when the main pancreatic duct is not dilated, (2) when the pancreatic head is enlarged, (3) when there is suspicion of a malignancy, or (4) when previous pancreaticojejunostomy has failed. Re-sectional strategies include pancreaticoduodenectomy, distal pancreatectomy, total pancreatectomy, duodenum-preserving pancreatic head resection (Beger procedure), or local resection of the pancreatic head with longitudinal pancreaticojejunostomy (Frey procedure). Superior results are obtained when the pancreatic head is resected, either completely (pancreaticoduodenectomy) or partially (Beger or Frey procedure). Although pylorus-preserving pancreaticoduodenectomy remains the gold standard resection procedure, there is evidence that newer operations, such as the Beger resection, may be as effective in regard to pain relief and better in respect to nutritional repletion and preservation of endocrine and exocrine function.

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