Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is a painful, yet benign inflammatory process of the pancreas. Surgical management should be individualized because the pain is multifactorial and its mechanisms vary from patient to patient. Two main pathogenetic theories for the mechanisms of pain in CP have been proposed: the neurogenic theory and the theory of increased intraductal/intraparenchymal pressures. The latter theory is strongly supported by the good results of drainage procedures in the surgical management of CP. Other possible contributing factors include pancreatic ischemia; a centrally sensitized pain state; and the development of complications, such as pseudocysts and stenosis of the duodenum or common bile duct. Common indications for surgery include intractable pain, suspicion of neoplasm, and complications that cannot be resolved with radiological or endoscopic treatments. Operative procedures have been historically classified into 4 categories: decompression procedures for diseased and obstructed pancreatic ducts; resection procedures for the proximal, distal, or total pancreas; denervation procedures of the pancreas; and hybrid procedures. Pancreaticoduodenectomy and pylorus-preserving pancreaticoduodenectomy, once the standard operations for patients with CP, have been replaced by hybrid procedures, such as duodenum-preserving pancreatic head resection, the Frey procedure, and their variants. These procedures are safe and effective in providing long-term pain relief and in treating CP-related complications. Hybrid procedures should be the operations of choice for patients with CP.
2011 by the Medical Association of Nippon Medical School