Pancreatitis arising from an obstructing ampullary neoplasm in patients with Gardner variant familial polyposis is an infrequently described clinical entity. We reviewed all patients with Gardner variant polyposis presenting with pancreatitis during a 12-year period in our institution, hoping to better define etiology and the appropriate diagnostic and interventional approach.
A retrospective record review (1986-1998) defined patient demographics, presenting features, initial and subsequent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) findings, subsequent treatments, and both immediate and long-term outcomes. Particular consideration was given to initial post-ERCP diagnosis and to endoscopic interventions undertaken at that time. We also looked at those patients who eventually required surgical intervention after long-term failure of medical and endoscopic therapy, the indications for surgery, final pathological characteristics, and follow-up results.
Eight patients (6 women and 2 men), with a mean age of 42 years at initial presentation, were found. Each patient was known to have Gardner variant familial polyposis at the time of the initial bout of pancreatitis. All had undergone prior colectomy and 4 of 8 had undergone prior cholecystectomy. None were known to be taking medications or ingesting pancreatoxic substances. Five of 8 patients had obstructing focal or diffuse adenomatous disease involving the ampulla. Two of 8 patients had pancreatitis attributed to other causes (divisum, stones) and a single patient had no clear etiology. Three of 5 patients with ampullary adenomatous disease underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy for recurrent adenomatous encroachment and ampullary stenosis, despite repetitive snare resection and papillotomy. All of these patients had ampullary and other duodenal adenomas, and none had malignant disease.
Patients presenting with pancreatitis in the setting of Gardner variant familial polyposis will frequently have an obstructing ampullary neoplasm, although additional etiologies should be sought. Initial endoscopic therapy affords transient relief but may not be definitive. The abnormal scarring and fibrosis (keloid formation, desmoid reaction) that characterize this disease likely play a large role in endoscopic or subsequent surgical failure. A significant number of these patients will go on to require surgical referral and intervention.