Chronic pancreatitis: Long-term surgical results of pancreatic duct drainage, pancreatic resection, and near-total pancreatectomy and islet autotransplantation

Charles E. Morrow, James I. Cohen, David E.R. Sutherland, John S. Najarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Severe abdominal pain was the major indication for operation in 85 patients with chronic pancreatitis. Preoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (50 patients) or intraoperative pancreatic ductograms (44 patients) demonstrated dilated or obstructed major pancreatic ducts in 50 patients (59%), nonvisualization of the distal duct in 10 patients (12%), and normal or small sized ducts in 34 patients (40%). Operative procedures, tailored according to duct morphology, included pancreatic duct drainage (46 patients), subtotal (40% to 80%) pancreatectomy (21 patients), near-total (85% to 95%) pancreatectomy alone (eight patients), and near-total or total pancreatectomy and intrahepatic islet autotransplantation (10 patients). Pancreatic duct drainage resulted in pain relief in 37 46 patients (80%) followed for 6 years. However, 20 46 patients (43%) had continued loss of pancreatic function after duct drainage as measured by the development of insulin-dependent diabetes (16 patients) or steatorrhea (seven patients). Seven years after subtotal pancreatectomy, pain relief was partial in 9 21 patients (43%) and complete in five patients (24%). A higher incidence of hypoglycemic or ketoacidotic complications was noted in patients treated by subtotal pancreatectomy (three patients, 14%) than by duct drainage (one patient, 2%). Near-total pancreatectomy was the most effective surgical procedure in relieving pain, but late sequelae in three patients (38%) included one hypoglycemic death and two ketoacidotic episodes. Five years after near-total pancreatectomy and islet autotransplantation, one patient remained permanently insulin independent; three patients were insulin independent for 4, 5, and 15 months, respectively, but subsequently developed nonketosis-prone diabetes (tested by insulin withdrawal) and require 15 to 30 U of insulin daily; three patients had immediate insulin requirements and currently need 20 to 30 U of insulin per day but are nonketosis prone; and two patients are ketosis prone and require 30 to 60 U of insulin daily. Our analysis suggests that 5-year survival of patients undergoing operation for chronic pancreatitis is similar after treatment by duct drainage, subtotal pancreatectomy, or near-total pancreatectomy, regardless of duct morphology. Five years after duct drainage or subtotal pancreatic resection, a high incidence of diabetes (59% and 48%) and/or continued pain (20%) and 35%) can be expected. Patients willing and able to accept immediate insulin-dependent diabetes in exchange for pain relief are candidates for major resective procedures, with the realization that islet autotransplantation only occasionally obviates the need for exogenous insulin treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)608-616
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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