Unilateral truncal thoracoscopic splanchnicectomy (TS) provides safe and effective treatment for pain relief in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer.
Before-and-after trial of 24 patients undergoing 25 TS procedures.
Surgical unit at a university teaching hospital.
A consecutive sample of 24 patients with severe pain due to unresectable (primary or recurrent) pancreatic cancer refractory to drug therapy and with a life expectancy of less than 6 months.
The key point of the reported operation is intrathoracic carbon dioxide insufflation, which allows a more distal division of the greater splanchnic nerve and a 2-port technique.
Main Outcome Measures
Pain and the effect of this symptom on quality of life were assessed before and after TS using a 10-point visual analog pain scale (VAS) and the Nottingham Health Profile questionnaire, respectively.
Four TS procedures were technical failures because of pleural adhesions. One patient required a contralateral procedure 12 weeks after TS. Mean (± SD) preoperative VAS basal score was 7.4 ± 1.7. Twenty-four hours after TS, it was reduced to 0.6 ± 1.0. Significant reduction of VAS scores persisted over the first 3 months after TS (P<.001). Recurrence of pain of low intensity (mean VAS basal score, 4.2) was observed in 8 patients. Significant improvement (P<.001) in each area covered by the Nottingham Health Profile questionnaire was reported at 1 month after TS.
Thoracoscopic splanchnicectomy offered substantial short-term relief of pain in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer, and significantly ameliorated the quality of their residual life.