Background: Obstruction of the main pancreatic duct with upstream hypertension and dilation is a cause of pain in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatic ductal drainage can be achieved endoscopically by intraductal stone removal after endoscopic pancreatic sphincterotomy and/or by insertion of a pancreatic stent. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy may be needed whenever stones cannot be removed by endoscopic procedures. We present our results in 35 patients treated with a combined endoscopic- extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy approach with at least 6 months of follow-up. Methods: Thirty-five patients with severe chronic pancreatitis were treated by extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy for endoscopically unretrievable obstructive stones. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy was performed with an electromagnetic lithotriptor in 29 patients and an electrohydraulic lithotriptor in 6. Results: The procedures were well tolerated by the majority of patients. Fragmentation of stones was obtained in all cases while complete clearance and decompression of pancreatic duct were obtained in 26 of 35 (74.3%) and in 30 of 35 (85.7%) cases, respectively. There was no mortality related to the procedure. Morbidity was observed in 8 of 35 patients (22.8%). Conclusions: Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is a safe and effective treatment for endoscopically unretrievable pancreatic stones in the main pancreatic duct. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy should be considered complementary and not an alternative to endoscopic drainage. Combined with endoscopy, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy may increase the success rate of nonsurgical treatment of patients with chronic pancreatitis.
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