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The Frey procedure for chronic pancreatitis secondary to pancreas divisum. JAMA Surg 2013 Nov;148(11):1057-62



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84888596905   12 Citations


IMPORTANCE: Pancreas divisum is an uncommon congenital anomaly that may result in chronic pancreatitis (chronic pancreatitis secondary to pancreas divisum [CPPD]) and intractable pain. We evaluated the role of the Frey procedure in the management of patients with pain related to CPPD as compared with patients with chronic pancreatitis secondary to alcohol (CPA) or idiopathic causes (ICP).

OBJECTIVE: To review our experience with the Frey procedure for the management of chronic pancreatitis related to pancreas divisum.

DESIGN: This was a 2-year institutional retrospective of patients undergoing the Frey procedure for chronic pancreatitis related-pain from April 2008 to June 2010.

SETTING: Academic tertiary care referral center.

PARTICIPANTS: A consecutive sample of 14 patients undergoing the Frey procedure for chronic pancreatitis and disease-related intractable pain. We sought to examine the utility of the Frey procedure in patients with CPPD as compared with CPA and ICP.

INTERVENTION: The Frey procedure.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Perioperative outcomes and postoperative narcotic requirement were compared among patient groups.

RESULTS: Fourteen patients underwent the Frey procedure. The etiology of the disease was pancreas divisum in 6 patients, alcohol in 5, and idiopathic in 3. The most common indication for surgery was intractable pain, and all patients had undergone endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography for attempted relief in the past. There were no statistically significant differences in median operative time (263 minutes), intraoperative blood loss (425 mL), median length of stay (9.5 days), or rate of morbidity (21%) between the 3 etiologies. Two-thirds of patients required less or no opioid at follow-up, although follow-up was significantly longer for CPPD and ICP than CPA (median, 249, 259, and 42 days, respectively; P < .02).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this series, outcomes for patients with CPPD treated with the Frey procedure were equivalent to those treated for CPA. Patients with pancreas divisum and a dilated pancreatic duct may be ideally suited for this surgical strategy. The potential advantage of this approach over minor duct sphincteroplasty and lateral pancreaticojejunostomy is the removal of the fibrotic tissue of the head of the pancreas, thought to be the epicenter of pain in this condition. The benefits over resection alone include a more extensive ductal drainage procedure.

Author List

Pappas SG, Pilgrim CH, Keim R, Harris R, Wilson S, Turaga K, Tsai S, Dua K, Khan A, Oh Y, Gamblin TC, Christians K


Kathleen K. Christians MD Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Kulwinder S. Dua MD Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Thomas Clark Gamblin MD Chief, Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Susan Tsai MD Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Constriction, Pathologic
Dilatation, Pathologic
Middle Aged
Pain, Intractable
Pancreatic Ducts
Pancreatitis, Chronic
Retrospective Studies
Treatment Outcome