Pharmacological management of pain in chronic pancreatitis
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nymegen, Gelderland, Netherlands Digestive and Liver Disease
(Impact Factor: 2.96).
08/2006; 38(7):518-26. DOI: 10.1016/j.dld.2006.02.002
Pain is the major presenting symptom of chronic pancreatitis. Patients with chronic pancreatitis experience substantial impairments in health-related quality of life. Pain may be considered as the most important factor affecting the quality of life. The pathogenesis of pancreatic pain is poorly understood. The cause of pain in chronic pancreatitis is probably multifactorial. This article discusses the various hypotheses that have been suggested to underlie pain. Special attention is paid to the concept of autonomous central sensitisation and hyperalgesia as a cause of pain. Strict abstinence from alcohol is the first step of chronic pancreatic pain management. As a second step, it is important to exclude treatable complications of chronic pancreatitis, such as pseudocysts. Symptomatic treatment with analgesics is often unavoidable in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and eventually opioids are suitable. Several trials have been performed with pancreatic enzymes, but a meta-analysis demonstrated no significant benefit in terms of pain relief. The treatment of chronic pancreatic pain requires a multidisciplinary approach that tailors the various therapeutic options to meet the need of the individual patient.
Available from: Dirk J Gouma
- "The current step-up practice arm represents optimal current practice in the management of chronic pancreatitis in the Netherlands. It is in concordance with international guidelines and current knowledge, and represents consensus of CP specialists within the Dutch Pancreatitis Study Group [6,7]. This optimal current step-up practice according to an explicit consensus protocol is considered the best alternative available for comparison to early surgery. "
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In current practice, patients with chronic pancreatitis undergo surgical intervention in a late stage of the disease, when conservative treatment and endoscopic interventions have failed. Recent evidence suggests that surgical intervention early on in the disease benefits patients in terms of better pain control and preservation of pancreatic function. Therefore, we designed a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the benefits, risks and costs of early surgical intervention compared to the current stepwise practice for chronic pancreatitis.
The ESCAPE trial is a randomized controlled, parallel, superiority multicenter trial. Patients with chronic pancreatitis, a dilated pancreatic duct (≥ 5 mm) and moderate pain and/or frequent flare-ups will be registered and followed monthly as potential candidates for the trial. When a registered patient meets the randomization criteria (i.e. need for opioid analgesics) the patient will be randomized to either early surgical intervention (group A) or optimal current step-up practice (group B). An expert panel of chronic pancreatitis specialists will oversee the assessment of eligibility and ensure that allocation to either treatment arm is possible. Patients in group A will undergo pancreaticojejunostomy or a Frey-procedure in case of an enlarged pancreatic head (≥ 4 cm). Patients in group B will undergo a step-up practice of optimal medical treatment, if needed followed by endoscopic interventions, and if needed followed by surgery, according to predefined criteria. Primary outcome is pain assessed with the Izbicki pain score during a follow-up of 18 months. Secondary outcomes include complications, mortality, total direct and indirect costs, quality of life, pancreatic insufficiency, alternative pain scales, length of hospital admission, number of interventions and pancreatitis flare-ups. For the sample size calculation we defined a minimal clinically relevant difference in the primary endpoint as a difference of at least 15 points on the Izbicki pain score during follow-up. To detect this difference a total of 88 patients will be randomized (alpha 0.05, power 90%, drop-out 10%).
The ESCAPE trial will investigate whether early surgery in chronic pancreatitis is beneficial in terms of pain relief, pancreatic function and quality of life, compared with current step-up practice.
Available from: Stefan A W Bouwense
- "Initial treatment typically consists of a low fat diet and non-narcotic analgesics.  Alternatives to medical treatment, e.g. pancreatic surgery, thoracoscopic splanchnicectomy and lithotripsy, may have an effect on pain in selected patients. "
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ABSTRACT: The most dominant feature in chronic pancreatitis is intense abdominal pain. Changes in spinal and/or supraspinal central nervous system pain processing due to visceral nociceptive input play an important role in this pain. How altered pain processing is related to disease stage still needs study.
Sixty chronic pancreatitis patients were compared to 15 healthy controls. Two subgroups of pancreatitis patients were defined based on the M-ANNHEIM severity index of chronic pancreatitis; i.e. moderate and severe. Pain detection and tolerance thresholds for pressure and electric stimuli were measured in six selected dermatomes (C5, T4, T10, L1, L4 and T10BACK). In addition, the conditioned pain modulation response to cold pressor task was determined. These measures were compared between the healthy controls and chronic pancreatitis patients. Severe pancreatitis patients showed lower pain thresholds than moderate pancreatitis patients or healthy volunteers. Healthy controls showed a significantly larger conditioned pain modulation response compared to all chronic pancreatitis patients taken together.
The present study confirms that chronic pancreatitis patients show signs of altered central processing of nociception compared to healthy controls. The study further suggests that these changes, i.e. central sensitization, may be influenced by disease stage. These findings underline the need to take altered central pain processing into account when managing the pain of chronic pancreatitis.
Available from: Alok Madan
- "Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is a long-term, often debilitating medical condition that drastically impacts the health and quality of life of affected patients. The disease involves persistent inflammation of the pancreas, causing the hallmark symptom of severe abdominal pain in 80–90 percent of patients  . Initial symptoms are often described as pancreatitis " attacks " characterized by episodes of extreme acute pain. "
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ABSTRACT: Objective. The present study was conducted to determine if depressive symptoms were associated with variability in pain perception and quality of life among patients with nonalcohol-related chronic pancreatitis. Methods. The research design was cross-sectional, and self-report data was collected from 692 patients with nonalcohol-related, intractable pancreatitis. The mean age of the sample was 52.6 (SD = 14.7); 41% of the sample were male. Participants completed the MOS SF12 Quality of Life Measure, the Center for Epidemiological Studies 10-item Depression Scale (CESD), and a numeric rating scale measure of "pain on average" from the Brief Pain Inventory. Results. Depressive symptoms were significantly related to participants' reports of increased pain and decreased quality of life. The mean CESD score of the sample was 10.6 (SD = 6.5) and 52% of the sample scored above the clinical cutoff for the presence of significant depressive symptomology. Patients scoring above the clinical cutoff on the depression screening measure rated their pain as significantly higher than those below the cutoff (P < 0.0001) and had significantly lower physical quality of life (P < 0.0001) and lower mental quality of life (P < 0.0001). Conclusion. Although causality cannot be determined based on cross-sectional, correlational data, findings suggest that among patients with nonalcoholic pancreatitis, the presence of depressive symptoms is common and may be a risk factor associated with increased pain and decreased quality of life. Thus, routine screening for depressive symptomology among patients with nonalcoholic pancreatitis may be warranted.
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