The problem of classification and staging of chronic pancreatitis: Proposals based on Current knowledge of its natural history

S. T. Chari, M. V. Singer

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Chari ST, Singer MV. The problem of classification and staging of chronic pancreatitis. Proposals based on current knowledge of its natural history. Scand J Gastroenterol 1994;29:949-960. Background: Even though the four international meetings held so far on classification of pancreatitis have helped considerably to further our understanding of the disease, all have serious drawbacks that limit their clinical utility. The main problem with the Marseille classifications is the need for histologic proof, and the Cambridge classification relies on imaging modalities that are not sensitive or specific enough. Results: Chronic pancreatic inflammation (CP) has been observed in association with several systemic diseases (such as autoimmune diseases), and since the natural history of the pancreatic affliction in these conditions is clearly distinct from that seen in other forms of CP, these need to be classified separately. Furthermore, many clinical/aetiologic forms of chronic calcifying pancreatitis (CCP) exist which differ sufficiently in their clinical features and management to deserve individual recognition. Proposal: A subclassification of CCP into alcoholic, tropical, hereditary, hypercalcaemic, hyper-lipoproteinaemic, drug-induced, and idiopathic is proposed. The staging of chronic alcoholic pancreatitis has been a controversial issue, mainly because of the apparent unpredictability of the course of pain. However, several large follow-up studies in the past decade suggest that recurrent acute exacerbations dominate the clinical picture in the first few years after onset of symptoms, and progressive pancreatic insufficiency is the predominant feature in the late stages of the disease. On the basis of the results of these studies it is proposed that alcoholic chronic pancreatitis be divided into four stages: I) latent or subclinical, II) early, or stage of inflammatory complications, III) late, or stage of severe pancreatic insufficiency, and IV) advanced, or stage of secondary painless pancreatitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-960
Number of pages12
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1994


  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Classification
  • Staging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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