The purpose of this study was to see if a small (<7 mm) pancreatic duct could be dilated to an acceptable diameter, allowing lateral pancreaticojejunostomy to decompress the pancreatic duct and relieve pain, while preserving pancreatic endocrine and exocrine function.
Patients with chronic pancreatitis who had a small main pancreatic duct underwent progressive trans-ampullary dilation of the duct and subsequent placement of an expandable metallic wall stent (wallstent; Boston Scientific Microvasive Division, Natick, Mass). Approximately 14 days later, a lateral pancreaticojejunostomy was done.
A 400-bed university referral center hospital in an urban setting.
Thirty-five patients were selected from a large group with chronic pancreatitis. Thirty-one had pancreas divisum. All patients had undergone transendoscopic sphincterotomies and stenting before being accepted into the study. All had endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography–proven chronic pancreatitis, and all ducts were observed to be 7 mm or smaller.
Patients were selected after endoscopic sphincterotomy and stenting failed. Progressive transendoscopic duct dilation with plastic stents was carried out, and a 10-mm expandable metallic wall stent was placed prior to surgical decompression. Lateral pancreaticojejunostomy was performed.
Main Outcome Measures
Patients were observed for pain relief, postoperative symptoms, analgesic use, glucose intolerance, and quality of life. All patients were seen or contacted by telephone, and their results were recorded.
There were no operative deaths, but 26% of patients had complications. Seventy-one percent of patients reported that their pain was better than preoperatively. Three patients had subsequent pancreatic surgery. No new cases of diabetes occurred except in the 2 patients who underwent total pancreatectomy.
In general, most patients feel that their lives were improved by the procedure. A quarter of the patients no longer take narcotics, and many have been able to resume a relatively normal lifestyle. Although this procedure is not a panacea for all patients with chronic pancreatitis and a nondilated duct, it is a reasonable alternative to resection.