J Clin Gastroenterol. 2021 May 28. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001544. Online ahead of print.
GOAL: We aimed to extract the percent of signs and symptoms at the time of diagnosis from published studies and to pool these using meta-analytic techniques.
BACKGROUND: Delayed or misdiagnosis of chronic pancreatitis may occur because the signs and symptoms are nonspecific and varied.
STUDY: We performed a systematic review of studies reporting the signs and symptoms of chronic pancreatitis at diagnosis. The percentage of patients with each sign and symptom was extracted and random-effects meta-analyses used to calculate pooled percentages.
RESULTS: In total, 22 observational studies were included. Across 14 studies, 55% of chronic pancreatitis patients were classified as having alcoholic etiology. Abdominal pain was the most common symptom (76%), and weight loss was reported in 22% of patients. Jaundice occurred in 11% of patients and steatorrhoea in 3%. Half of the patients had a history of acute pancreatitis, and 28% had diabetes mellitus at diagnosis. Heterogeneity between the studies was high for all signs and symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS: This research has identified some common features of patients with chronic pancreatitis, but the high heterogeneity makes it difficult to draw solid conclusions. Carefully designed studies to examine the signs and symptoms leading up to a diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis, and common combinations, are required. These would enable the development of a tool to aid in the early identification of chronic pancreatitis in the primary care setting, with potential for improved short-term and long-term outcomes for patients.