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Gastroenterology. 1993 Sep;105(3):905-9.

Abdominal radiotherapy is a cause for chronic pancreatitis.

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Service de Gastroentérologie, Hôpital Beaujon, Clichy, France.


We report a series of five patients with nonalcoholic chronic pancreatitis who underwent abdominal radiotherapy for Hodgkin's disease (n = 4) or seminoma (n = 1) at doses ranging from 3600 to 4050 rads, 6 to 20 years (median, 7 years) before the onset of pancreatitis. Patients were in complete remission for their malignant disease. Other causes of chronic pancreatitis were excluded. The manifestations of chronic pancreatitis (median follow-up after the diagnosis of pancreatitis, 5 years) were pancreatic pain (n = 5), acute pancreatitis (n = 3), pseudocysts (n = 3), common bile duct stenosis (n = 2), duodenal stenosis (n = 1), splenic vein obstruction (n = 1), diabetes mellitus (n = 4), steatorrhea (n = 4), and pancreatic calcifications (n = 1). Other abdominal radiation injuries were severe chronic ulcer of the genu superius (n = 1), stenosis at the junction of the right and left hepatic ducts (n = 1), and splenic and left renal atrophy (n = 1). In one patient, pathological examination of the pancreas showed signs of chronic pancreatitis, severe fibrous endarteritis, and lack of inflammation. Abdominal radiotherapy should be added to the list of causes of chronic pancreatitis. We suggest that the physiopathology of postradiotherapy chronic pancreatitis is a vascular process.

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