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Chronic pancreatitis (CP) remains a complex condition resulting in significant morbidity and suffering in patients, often over a long period of time. Treatment is mostly centred on a conservative approach, with a variety of more aggressive options being trialled over the years utilising numerous endoscopic and surgical techniques.
This review provides an overview of current treatment options for CP, the literature search was performed via PubMed. Personal experiences from the authors on how to approach the disease from the surgeon’s perspective are added. The outline includes pathophysiologic aspects, classifications and patient-centred surgical approaches.
There has not been a standardized treatment for CP so far as clinical and radiological appearance of the disease have a wide range due to great heterogeneity of this complex disease; therefore, level 1 evidence for treatment of CP remains low. More recently, different approaches to surgical management have been trialled. With personalized surgery, long-term pain relief is achievable in up to 90% with low morbidity. Autologous islet cell transplantation is a feasible option in selected patients to avoid endocrine insufficiency.
A tailored approach to CP patients is mandatory in this heterogeneous disease. Surgery provides good outcomes especially as prophylaxis for and treatment of chronic pain. A multidisciplinary approach is mandatory, including physicians, pancreatic surgeons, endoscopists, dieticians and radiologists.