Published online Oct 7, 2013. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i37.6156
Revised: August 13, 2013
Accepted: August 20, 2013
Published online: October 7, 2013
Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is a progressive disease with irreversible changes in the pancreas. Patients commonly present with pain and with exocrine or endocrine insufficiency. All therapeutic efforts in CP are directed towards relief of pain as well as the management of associated complications. Endoscopic therapy offers many advantages in patients with CP who present with ductal calculi, strictures, ductal leaks, pseudocyst or associated biliary strictures. Endotherapy offers a high rate of success with low morbidity in properly selected patients. The procedure can be repeated and failed endotherapy is not a hindrance to subsequent surgery. Endoscopic pancreatic sphincterotomy is helpful in patients with CP with minimal ductal changes while minor papilla sphincterotomy provides relief in patients with pancreas divisum and chronic pancreatitis. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is the standard of care in patients with large pancreatic ductal calculi. Long term follow up has shown pain relief in over 60% of patients. A transpapillary stent placed across the disruption provides relief in over 90% of patients with ductal leaks. Pancreatic ductal strictures are managed by single large bore stents. Multiple stents are placed for refractory strictures. CP associated benign biliary strictures (BBS) are best treated with multiple plastic stents, as the response to a single plastic stent is poor. Covered self expanding metal stents are increasingly being used in the management of BBS though further long term studies are needed. Pseudocysts are best drained endoscopically with a success rate of 80%-95% at most centers. Endosonography (EUS) has added to the therapeutic armamentarium in the management of patients with CP. Drainage of pseudcysts, cannulation of inaccessible pancreatic ducts and celiac ganglion block in patients with intractable pain are all performed using EUS. Endotherapy should be offered as the first line of therapy in properly selected patients with CP who have failed to respond to medical therapy and require intervention.
Core tip: Chronic pancreatitis is a challenge to the therapeutic endoscopist. A patient with chronic pancreatitis can present with ductal calculi, leaks, pseudocysts, strictures, pancreatic malignancy or a biliary obstruction. Endoscopic therapy offers a high rate of success in properly selected patients. It offers many advantages over surgery, which for a long time was considered the gold standard in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis. This chapter deals with the management of chronic pancreatitis associated strictures, calculi, leaks and pseudocysts. The role of endosonography in management of pseudocysts, cannulation of inaccessible ducts and pain relief has also been discussed.