Non-Invasive Pancreatic Therapy Finds Success

Less invasive therapy more successful than surgery for pancreatitis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Two studies have found a way to improve in-patient combined therapy for pancreatic disease, which has shown higher survival rates than surgery.

Pancreatitis is a condition that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, usually due to gallstones or alcohol abuse. The pancreas is a vital gland behind the stomach involved in several processes, including hormone excretion and breaking down of carbohydrates, fats and proteins during digestion. It also releases the hormone insulin, making the pancreas of primary concern for patients with diabetes.

In 2004, there were 454,000 hospitalizations due to pancreatitis and 3,480 deaths. Severe acute pancreatitis is the initial stage of the disease and is characterized by severe abdominal pain that reaches around to the back as well. Some patients recover after such an episode, but 20 percent experience further complications that can prove fatal.

Walled-off pancreatic necrosis (WOPN) is a common problem, in which infection causes passages to other organs to become blocked. In such cases, drainage and surgery are necessary. Less invasive techniques, however, have been applied with success.

Doctors have paired standard treatment for MOPN with additional combined therapy and have seen drastic improvements. Patients undergoing this new mixture of treatments are seeing shorter hospital stays and faster recovery. They are also exposed to far less radiation.

Pancreatic necrosis is the reason most patients suffering from pancreatitis die. The standard treatment for the condition has been surgery, prompting a recent study to assess the efficiency of more conservative treatment involving antibiotics, nutritional support and drainage via a needle.

Surprisingly, those treated in intensive care with the primary conservative treatment showed higher survival rates than those who underwent surgery. Patients may now be able to avoid the high risks associated with surgery and achieve recovery with this in-patient process.

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Review Date: 
January 7, 2011
Last Updated:
January 10, 2011