Pancreatic quantitative sensory testing to predict treatment response of endoscopic therapy or surgery for painful chronic pancreatitis with pancreatic duct obstruction: study protocol for an observational clinical trial

Anna Evans Phillips, Elham Afghani, Venkata Sandeep Akshintala, Panayiotis Y. Benos, Rohit Das, Asbjørn Mohr Drewes, Jeffrey Easler, Mahya Faghih, Charles Gabbert, Vivek Halappa, Mouen A. Khashab, Søren Schou Olesen, Jami L. Saloman, Biatta Sholosh, Adam Slivka, Tianxiu Wang, Dhiraj Yadav, Vikesh K. Singh

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Introduction Treatment for abdominal pain in patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP) remains challenging in the setting of central nervous system sensitisation, a phenomenon of remodelling and neuronal hyperexcitability resulting from persistent pain stimuli. This is suspected to render affected individuals less likely to respond to conventional therapies. Endotherapy or surgical decompression is offered to patients with pancreatic duct obstruction. However, the response to treatment is unpredictable. Pancreatic quantitative sensory testing (P-QST), an investigative technique of standardised stimulations to test the pain system in CP, has been used for phenotyping patients into three mutually exclusive groups: no central sensitisation, segmental sensitisation (pancreatic viscerotome) and widespread hyperalgesia suggestive of supraspinal central sensitisation. We will test the predictive capability of the pretreatment P-QST phenotype to predict the likelihood of pain improvement following invasive treatment for painful CP. Methods and analysis This observational clinical trial will enrol 150 patients from the University of Pittsburgh, Johns Hopkins and Indiana University. Participants will undergo pretreatment phenotyping with P-QST. Treatment will be pancreatic endotherapy or surgery for clearance of painful pancreatic duct obstruction. Primary outcome: average pain score over the preceding 7 days measured by Numeric Rating Scale at 6 months postintervention. Secondary outcomes will include changes in opioid use during follow-up, and patient-reported outcomes in pain and quality of life at 3, 6 and 12 months after the intervention. Exploratory outcomes will include creation of a model for individualised prediction of response to invasive treatment. Ethics and dissemination The trial will evaluate the ability of P-QST to predict response to invasive treatment for painful CP and develop a predictive model for individualised prediction of treatment response for widespread use. This trial was approved by the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board. Data and results will be reported and disseminated in conjunction with National Institutes of Health policies. Trial registration number NCT04996628.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere081505
JournalBMJ open
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 21 2024


  • Chronic Pain
  • Neurological pain
  • Pancreatic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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