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J Clin Oncol. 2011 Sep 10;29(26):3541-6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.32.2750. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of early endoscopic ultrasound-guided celiac plexus neurolysis to prevent pain progression in patients with newly diagnosed, painful, inoperable pancreatic cancer.

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MDCM, MSc, Centre Hospitalier de l'Universite de Montreal, Hopital Saint Luc, 1058 Rue Saint Denis, Montreal, Quebec H2X 3J4, Canada.



Celiac plexus neurolysis (CPN) is currently used as salvage therapy for morphine-resistant pancreatic cancer pain. Endoscopic ultrasound-guided CPN (EUS-CPN) can be performed early, at the time of EUS. We hypothesized that early EUS-CPN would reduce pain and morphine consumption, increase quality of life (QOL), and prolong survival.


Patients were eligible if referred for EUS for suspected pancreatic cancer with related pain. If EUS and EUS-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology confirmed inoperable adenocarcinoma, patients were randomly assigned to early EUS-CPN or conventional pain management. Pain scores (7-point Likert scale), morphine equivalent consumption, and QOL scores (Digestive Disease Questionnaire-15) were assessed at 1 and 3 months.


Five hundred eighty eligible patients were seen between April 2006 and December 2008. Ninety-six patients were randomly assigned (48 patients per study arm). Pain relief was greater in the EUS-CPN group at 1 month and significantly greater at 3 months (difference in mean percent change in pain score = -28.9 [95% CI, -67.0 to 2.8], P = .09, and -60.7 [95% CI, -86.6 to -25.5], P = .01, respectively). Morphine consumption was similar in both groups at 1 month (difference in mean change in morphine consumption = -1.0 [95% CI, -47.7 to 49.2], P = .99), but tended toward lower consumption at 3 months in the neurolysis group (difference in mean change in morphine consumption = -49.5 [95% CI, -127.5 to 7.0], P = .10). There was no effect on QOL or survival.


Early EUS-CPN reduces pain and may moderate morphine consumption in patients with painful, inoperable pancreatic adenocarcinoma. EUS-CPN can be considered in all such patients at the time of diagnostic and staging EUS.

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