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Is the Whipple Procedure Harmful for Long-term Outcome in Treatment of Chronic Pancreatitis? 15-Years Follow-up Comparing the Outcome after Pylorus-Preserving Pancreatoduodenectomy and Frey Procedure in Chronic Pancreatitis

Bachmann, Kai MD; Tomkoetter, Lena MD; Kutup, Asad MD; Erbes, Johannes MD; Vashist, Yogesh MD; Mann, Oliver MD; Bockhorn, Maximilian MD; Izbicki, Jakob R. MD

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3182a655a8
Original Articles From the ESA Proceedings

Objective: The aim of this study was to report on 15-year long-term results of a randomized controlled trial comparing extended drainage procedure (Frey) and classical resectional procedure [pylorus-preserving pancreatoduodenectomy (PD)] in patients with chronic pancreatitis.

Background: Chronic pancreatitis is a common inflammatory disease with a prevalence of 10 to 30 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It is characterized by the progressive conversion of pancreatic parenchyma to fibrous tissue. Different surgical procedures are used in treatment of persistent pain.

Methods: Sixty-four patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis with inflammatory mass in the pancreatic head were randomly assigned in 2 treatment groups (PD, n = 32) and (Frey, n = 32). The perioperative course of the randomized controlled trial and the 7 years follow-up have been previously published. All participating patients were contacted with a standardized, validated questionnaire (EORTC QLQ C30) to evaluate the long-term survival, quality-of-life pain, and exocrine and endocrine function.

Results: In the 15-year long-term follow-up, the pain control was good and comparable between both groups, but the quality of life was better after Frey procedure in regard of the physical status [PD: 100 (0–100) vs PD: 60 (0–100) (P = 0.011)]. No significant differences in terms of the Pain Score were detected between both groups [PD: 7 (0–100) vs Frey 4 (0–100) P = 0.258]. Seven patients after Frey OP and 6 patients after PD were free of pain. Analyzing the postoperative overall survival, a higher long-term mortality was found after PD (53%) than that found after Frey procedure (30%) resulting in a longer mean survival (14.5 ± 0.8 vs 11.3 ± 0.8 years; P = 0.037). No correlation between endocrine or exocrine pancreatic function and pain was found, whereas continuous alcohol consumption was associated with poorer outcome regarding quality of life (P < 0.001) and pain score (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: PD and Frey procedure provide good and permanent pain relief and improvement of the quality of life in long-term follow-up. In addition, a longer survival was found after the organ sparing resection. Together with better short-term results, the organ-sparing procedure seems to be favorable in treatment of chronic pancreatitis.

This study reports on the 15-year long-term results of a randomized controlled trial comparing extended drainage procedure (Frey) and classical resectional procedure (pylorus-preserving pancreatoduodenectomy) in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Endpoints of the trials were quality of life, pain, long-term survival, and exocrine and endocrine function.

From the Department of General Surgery, University Hospital Hamburg Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.

Reprints: Kai Bachmann, MD, Department of General, Visceral and Thoracic Surgery, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany. E-mail:

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.