Temporal information about the structural brain changes in chronic pancreatitis (CP) and its relation to the clinical manifestations is lacking. This study investigated changes in morphological brain parameters over 7 years in painful CP patients, compared with controls.Methods
In this 7-year longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging study, we included 23 CP patients and 14 controls. Gray matter volume (GMV) and cortical thickness were examined using voxel-based and surface-based morphometry. In addition, patients completed pain questionnaires and diary.Results
At baseline, patients had reduced GMV and cortical thickness in widespread brain areas compared with controls. After 7 years of follow-up, the GMV loss was more pronounced in patients compared with controls, particularly in precentral gyrus and putamen. Moreover, an increase in pain scores was associated with a less reduction of thalamic GMV (P = 0.046), whereas an increase in brief pain inventory score was associated with more reduction in cortical thickness of precentral (P = 0.005) and superior temporal gyri (P = 0.019), indicating that brain morphological alterations are associated with the pain.Conclusions
Chronic pancreatitis pain is associated with morphological brain changes over time in several areas, reflecting that brain plasticity may be a consequence of repeated long-term nociceptive signaling.