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J Gastrointest Surg. 2012 Jan;16(1):129-33; discussion 133-4. doi: 10.1007/s11605-011-1744-y. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Pain control and quality of life after pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation for chronic pancreatitis.

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Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.



In selected patients with chronic pancreatitis, total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation can be effective for the treatment of intractable pain while ameliorating postoperative diabetes. Improved quality of life scores and decreased daily narcotic use, as indicators of successful pain relief, are expected after total pancreatectomy. These outcomes and their relationship have not been well examined in this patient group.


A prospectively collected database of patients undergoing extensive pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation for pancreatitis was reviewed. Data pertaining to daily oral morphine equivalents (MEs) and quality of life (QOL), as measured by the SF-12 questionnaire, in the preoperative and postoperative period were reviewed. Approval from the IRB for the evaluation of human subjects was obtained.


Over a 20-month period, 33 patients (25 women, median age 42) underwent extensive pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation for pancreatitis. Mean follow-up was 9 months with a range of 6-12 months. Postoperative complications occurred in 16 patients (48%). Preoperative QOL scores were a mean 25 for physical component and 32 for mental health component. Postoperatively, physical component scores averaged 33 at 6 months (p = 0.025) and 36 at 12 months (mean increase of 11); the mental health component scores averaged 43 at 6 months (p = 0.007) and 44 at 12 months (mean increase of 12). Preoperative MEs averaged 357 mg daily. At discharge from the hospital, this number increased to 536 mg average MEs daily, a 50% increase, as expected after major surgery in the chronic pain patient. At 6 months, 15 out of 31 patients (48%) required less daily MEs than preoperatively and averaged 161 mg daily (-55%). By 12 months, 11 out of 17 patients (65%) required less daily MEs than preoperatively and averaged 128 mg daily (-64%); four were narcotic-free (23%). Of the six patients who did not decrease their analgesic requirements at 1 year, five (83%) still had an improved physical QOL score (one patient was unchanged) and all six had an improved mental health QOL.


Total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplant is an effective surgery for end-stage chronic pancreatitis. Quality of life improves early postoperatively while decreased narcotic analgesia requirements occur later. Both improved quality of life and decreased narcotic analgesia requirements continue to occur at least up to 1 year postoperatively. Further investigation is needed to assess the durability of total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation for severe chronic pancreatitis with respect to pain relief and improved quality of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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