Medical therapy for chronic pancreatitis pain
- Cite this article as:
- Singh, V.V. & Toskes, P.P. Curr Gastroenterol Rep (2003) 5: 110. doi:10.1007/s11894-003-0079-6
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Chronic pancreatitis should be considered in all patients with unexplained abdominal pain. Management of abdominal pain in these patients continues to pose a formidable challenge. The importance of small duct disease without radiographic abnormalities is now a well-established concept. It is meaningful to determine whether patients with chronic pancreatitis have small duct or large duct disease because this distinction has therapeutic implications. Diagnostic evaluation should begin with simple noninvasive and inexpensive tests like serum trypsinogen and fecal elastase, to be followed where appropriate by more complicated measures such as the secretin hormone stimulation test, especially in patients with suspected small duct disease. No universal causal treatment is available. Non-enteric-coated enzyme preparations are useful for treatment of pain, whereas enteric-coated enzyme preparations are preferred for steatorrhea. Octreotide is used increasingly for abdominal pain that is unresponsive to pancreatic enzyme therapy. When medical therapy for chronic pancreatitis pain has failed, endoscopic therapy, endoscopic ultrasound-guided celiac plexus block, and thoracoscopic splanchnicectomy, performed by experts, may be considered for a highly selected patient population. Surgical ductal decompression is appropriate in patients with considerable pancreatic ductal dilation. The role and efficacy of cholecystokinin-receptor antagonists, antioxidants, and antidepressant drugs remain to be defined.