Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Volume 2016, Article ID 8541839, 6 pages
Review Article

Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements Are Not Effective for Relieving Abdominal Pain in Patients with Chronic Pancreatitis: Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

1Division of Gastroenterology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
2Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
3Division of Respirology, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
4Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

Received 17 March 2015; Accepted 20 July 2015

Copyright © 2016 Mohammad Yaghoobi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Pancreatic enzyme supplementation is widely used to treat pain in patients with chronic pancreatitis, despite little evidence for efficacy. We performed a systematic review of the literature and a meta-analysis to investigate its effectiveness. Methods. All randomized controlled parallel or crossover trials in patients with chronic pancreatitis comparing pancreatic enzyme supplementation to placebo were included. The main outcome was improvement in pain score or reduced analgesic consumption. Two independent reviewers extracted data. Mantel-Haenszel random effect model meta-analysis was used whenever methodologically appropriate. Results. Five out of 434 retrieved studies were included in the systematic review. All studies used relatively similar methodology. Four studies using enteric-coated pancreatic enzyme supplementation failed to show any improvement in pain as compared to placebo. The only study using non-enteric-coated enzymes did show reduction in the pain score. There was significant heterogeneity among studies in both analyses. Random model meta-analysis of three studies showed no significant difference in the mean of daily pain score (mean difference: 0.09 (1.57–1.39), ) or average weekly analgesic consumption (mean difference: −0.30 (−2.37–1.77), ) between the periods of administering pancreatic enzyme supplementation versus placebo. Conclusion. Pancreatic enzyme supplements do not seem to relieve abdominal pain in patients with chronic pancreatitis and should not be prescribed solely for this purpose, given their significant cost and potential side effects.