Chronic Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis Procedures and Care

Chronic pancreatitis is essentially permanent damage or “scarring” of the pancreas usually due to previous episodes of “acute” pancreatitis.

Common etiologies include gallstones, alcohol use, certain medications and occasionally due to underlying autoimmune or hereditary conditions.

At times the injury is limited to part of the gland, while in other cases the entire pancreas may also be affected.

Once chronic pancreatitis develops, even if the initial cause is removed (for example the gallbladder is removed for patients who had gallstone pancreatitis), the structural changes and damage can cause future episodes of acute and eventually acute on chronic pancreatitis. This would be particularly applicable to cases where there is damage to the pancreatic duct.

While certainly a challenging and difficult condition to manage, we are now realizing that surgical intervention, especially earlier on, can make a significant improvement in select patients.

Potential surgical interventions can include resection or drainage procedures. Factors such as pancreatic ductal dilation or disruption and diffuse versus segmental disease are key determinants in the procedure to be performed.

While most patients will experience an improvement in symptoms, it is important to keep in mind that chronic pancreatitis is truly a challenging condition. Not all patients qualify for surgery, and even in those who undergo a surgical procedure, outcomes do vary.

Nonetheless, we will work closely with your primary and gastroenterology physicians to ensure that we come up with a specific and “tailored” plan for each patient.