For patients with head-dominant, small-duct chronic pancreatitis who require operative intervention, pancreatoduodenectomy can be performed safely and affords satisfactory pain relief in most.
Retrospective case series. Follow-up was complete in 86% of study subjects (average, 6.6 years).
Tertiary care center.
Among 484 consecutive cases of chronic pancreatitis treated surgically from January 1976 through April 1997, 105 (22%) in which pancreatoduodenectomy was performed were reviewed with regard to criteria for selection, operative procedure, postoperative course, and long-term outcome.
Main Outcome Measures
The main outcome measure was degree of pain relief. Additionally, late mortality, cause of death, the presence of endocrine and exocrine insufficiency, and quality of life were recorded.
There were 72 men (69%) and 33 women (31%) with a mean age of 51 years (range, 24-77 years). The cause of chronic pancreatitis was alcohol related in 58 patients (55%) and idiopathic in 41 (39%). Clinical manifestations included abdominal pain in 86 patients (82%), obstructive jaundice in 27 (26%), and vomiting in 11 (11%). Suspicion of malignant neoplasm was a concern in 67 patients (64%). Operative morbidity was 32%, and mortality, 3%. Mean hospital stay was 16 days (range, 12-82 days). Survival was significantly lower than that of age-matched controls. Among 66 patients with preoperative pain, pain relief was achieved in 59 (89%); it was complete in 44 patients (67%) and partial in 15 (23%). Operation resulted in a significant increase in patients with normal functional status (73 patients [81%] vs 51 [49%]; P<.001). Forty patients (48%) had diabetes. Steatorrhea was observed in 39 patients (43%), while weight maintenance or gain occurred in 59 (66%).
Pancreatoduodenectomy achieves pain relief and good quality of life in a large percentage of selected patients with small-duct, head-dominant disease and is especially useful when a malignant neoplasm must be excluded. Morbidity and mortality are acceptable in experienced hands. Onset of diabetes and steatorrhea, while reflecting the natural course of the disease, is likely accelerated by pancreatoduodenectomy.