Quality of Life and Long-Term Survival after Surgery for Chronic Pancreatitis

Taylor A. Sohn, Kurtis A. Campbell, Henry A. Pitt, Patricia K. Sauter, Joann Coleman, Keith D. Lillemoe, Charles J. Yeo, John L. Cameron

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88 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to evaluate the short-term and long-term outcome as well as quality of life in patients undergoing surgical management of chronic pancreatitis. Between January 1980 and December 1996, a total of 255 patients underwent surgery for chronic pancreatitis at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. The etiology of the disease, indications for surgery, patient characteristics and long-term survival were analyzed. A visual analog quality-of-life questionnaire containing 23 items graded on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = worst and 10 = best) was sent to patients postoperatively. Visual analog responses relating to before and after the chronic pancreatitis surgery were compared using a paired t test. During the 17-year review period, 263 operations were performed for chronic pancreatitis in 255 patients. The most common presenting symptoms were abdominal pain (88%), weight loss (36%), nausea/vomiting (30%), jaundice (14%), and diarrhea (12%). The cause of the pancreatitis was presumed to be alcohol in 43%, idiopathic in 38%, pancreas divisum in 5%, ampullary abnormality in 4%, and gallstones in 3%. Pancreaticoduodenectomy was the most common procedure in 96 patients (37%), followed by distal pancreatectomy in 67 (25%), Puestow procedure in 52 (19%), sphincteroplasty in 37 (14%), and Duval procedure in five (2%). The overall mortality and morbidity rates were 1.9% and 35%, respectively. Two hundred twenty-seven (89%) of the 255 patients were alive at last follow-up. For the entire cohort of patients, the 5- and 10-year actuarial survivals were 88% and 82%, respectively. One hundred six (47%) of the 227 living patients responded to the visual analog quality-of-life questionnaire. Patients reported improvements in all aspects of the quality-of-life survey including enjoyment out of life, satisfaction with life, pain, number of hospitalizations, feelings of usefulness, and overall health (P <0.005). In addition to improved quality of life after surgery, narcotic use was decreased (41% vs. 21%, P <0.01) and alcohol use was decreased (59% vs. 33%, P <0.001). However, patients often became insulin-dependent diabetics (12% vs. 41%, P <0.0001) and required pancreatic enzyme supplementation (34% vs. 55%, P <0.01) after surgical intervention. These data suggest that surgery for patients with chronic pancreatitis can be performed safely with minimal morbidity and excellent long-term survival. Moreover, this study evaluates quality of life in a standardized analog fashion, with highly significant improvement reported in all quality-of-life measures. We conclude that surgery remains an excellent option for patients with chronic pancreatitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-365
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Pancreatitis
  • Quality of life
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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