The timing of surgical intervention in chronic pancreatitis

Issa Y, Kempeneers MA, Bruno MJ, et al. Effect of Early Surgery vs Endoscopy-First Approach on Pain in Patients With Chronic Pancreatitis: The ESCAPE Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2020 Jan 21;323(3):237-247.

Full-text for Emory users.

Results: Among 88 patients who were randomized (mean age, 52 years; 21 (24%) women), 85 (97%) completed the trial. During 18 months of follow-up, patients in the early surgery group had a lower Izbicki pain score than patients in the group randomized to receive the endoscopy-first approach group (37 vs 49; between-group difference, -12 points [95% CI, -22 to -2]; P = .02). Complete or partial pain relief at end of follow-up was achieved in 23 of 40 patients (58%) in the early surgery vs 16 of 41 (39%)in the endoscopy-first approach group (P = .10). The total number of interventions was lower in the early surgery group (median, 1 vs 3; P < .001). Treatment complications (27% vs 25%), mortality (0% vs 0%), hospital admissions, pancreatic function, and quality of life were not significantly different between early surgery and the endoscopy-first approach.

Conclusions and relevance: Among patients with chronic pancreatitis, early surgery compared with an endoscopy-first approach resulted in lower pain scores when integrated over 18 months. However, further research is needed to assess persistence of differences over time and to replicate the study findings.

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Article of interest: Endoscopic or Surgical Myotomy in Patients with Idiopathic Achalasia

One discussion this week included a question about the patient outcomes of those undergoing the POEM procedure.


Werner YB, Hakanson B, Martinek J, et al. Endoscopic or Surgical Myotomy in Patients with Idiopathic Achalasia. N Engl J Med. 2019;381(23):2219–2229.

Full-text for Emory users.

Results: A total of 221 patients were randomly assigned to undergo either POEM (112 patients) or LHM plus Dor’s fundoplication (109 patients). Clinical success at the 2-year follow-up was observed in 83.0% of patients in the POEM group and 81.7% of patients in the LHM group (difference, 1.4 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], −8.7 to 11.4; P=0.007 for noninferiority). Serious adverse events occurred in 2.7% of patients in the POEM group and 7.3% of patients in the LHM group. Improvement in esophageal function from baseline to 24 months, as assessed by measurement of the integrated relaxation pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter, did not differ significantly between the treatment groups (difference, −0.75 mm Hg; 95% CI, −2.26 to 0.76), nor did improvement in the score on the Gastrointestinal Quality of Life Index (difference, 0.14 points; 95% CI, −4.01 to 4.28). At 3 months, 57% of patients in the POEM group and 20% of patients in the LHM group had reflux esophagitis, as assessed by endoscopy; at 24 months, the corresponding percentages were 44% and 29%.

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