For some people with chronic pancreatitis, surgery is the only hope. The condition can cause debilitating abdominal pain, and sometimes, push people to turn to substances for relief. But the long-term results of pancreatic surgery, including removal of the shrimp-shaped organ behind the stomach, are not well understood.
A new study, an attempt to document these patients’ outcomes in the long run, found declining survival rates over the first decade after surgery. The paper also identified a mixed bag of post-surgical health issues — raising questions about who should undergo surgery, what support is necessary after a pancreas procedure, and whether potential harms outweigh the benefits.