Korean J Pancreas Biliary Tract.  2017 Apr;22(2):63-71. 10.15279/kpba.2017.22.2.63.

Clinical Features, Natural History, and Complications of Chronic Pancreatitis

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University College of Medicine, Anyang, Korea. endomoon@naver.com


Chronic pancreatitis is a debilitating disease characterized by abdominal pain, exocrine insufficiency, and diabetes mellitus and has had great social, economic, and psychological impacts. Traditional definition of chronic pancreatitis has been based on irreversible histological findings such as self-sustaining chronic inflammation, fibrosis, and eventual destruction of ductal, exocrine, and endocrine tissues. In contrast, the traditional characteristics of acute pancreatitis have been thought as a complete recovery of pancreatic function and morphology during the convalescence period. Acute and chronic pancreatitis have been considered separated disease entities. However, the current idea regarding the natural course of pancreatitis is that acute pancreatitis can progress to the intermediate step of recurrent acute pancreatitis, and finally to chronic pancreatitis. This evolution can be characterized by a sequence of necrotic and fibrotic events, or described by sentinel acute pancreatitis event (SAPE) hypothesis. Therefore, chronic pancreatitis is better defined as a progressive inflammatory and fibrotic disease of the pancreas with clinical features of abdominal pain, malnutrition, diabetes mellitus and imaging features of pancreatic parenchymal/ductal calcifications. The complications of chronic pancreatitis include pseudocyst, pseudoaneurysm, fistula, biliary stricture, and duodenal stricture. This review describes the progression from acute to chronic pancreatitis, the mechanisms and nature of abdominal pain, steatorrhea, pancreatogenic diabetes mellitus, pseudocyst, pseudoaneurysm, and biliary stricture associated with chronic pancreatitis.


Pancreatitis; Chronic; Abdominal pain; Natural history; Diabetes mellitus
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