We review important new clinical observations in pancreas divisum (PD) made since 2007. PD is common and has the same prevalence in the general population and idiopathic pancreatitis (IP). Up to 53% of patients with PD and IP have underlying idiopathic chronic pancreatitis (CP), and in rigorous prospective clinical follow-up and/or natural history studies, many with idiopathic recurrent acute pancreatitis (IRAP) have idiopathic CP. According to retrospective studies, PD does not modify the natural course of nonalcoholic or alcoholic CP. CFTR and/or SPINK1 gene mutations associate with IP (idiopathic CP and IRAP) independently of the presence of PD. More than one third of patients with pancreatitis or presumed pancreaticobiliary pain respond to placebo. Authors of uncontrolled studies report a significant symptomatic response to surgery and endotherapy in patients with IP and PD, but the response remains unproven and is largely limited to those with IRAP and not idiopathic CP or chronic pain.
KeywordsPancreas divisum Acute pancreatitis Chronic pancreatitis Sphincterotomy
Conflicts of interest: M. DiMagno is supported by National Institutes of Health grants K08 DK073298 and R21 AA017271; E-J. Wamsteker—none.
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