What is Chronic Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis means inflammation of the pancreas.

  • Chronic pancreatitis - When the inflammation is persistent. The inflammation tends to be less intense than acute pancreatitis but as it is ongoing it can cause scarring and damage.


What are the causes of chronic pancreatitis?

Alcohol - is the commonest cause (about 7 in 10 cases). In most cases the person has been drinking heavily for 10 years.
Autoimmune – this is where your own immune system attacks the pancreas.
Genetic – there are some rare genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis which can lead to chronic pancreatitis.

What are the symptoms of Chronic pancreatitis?

  • Abdominal pain - spreading through to the back. Eating often makes the pain worse. Patient gets several recurrent episodes of pain and may need repeated admissions
  • Weight loss- fear of eating leads to weight loss.
  • Poor digestion (malabsorption) - Undigested fat from the diet is passed with stools. This causes pale, smelly, loose stools that are difficult to flush away (steatorrhoea).
  • Diabetes - occurs in about 1 in 3 cases. This occurs when the pancreas cannot make sufficient insulin.

What happens in Chronic pancreatitis?

  • A persistent inflammation develops in the pancreas.
  • Inflammation causes damage to parts of the pancreas.
  • Leads to inadequate production of digestive enzymes and insulin causing malabsorption of food and diabetes.
  • Stone formation within the pancreatic duct.

How is chronic pancreatitis diagnosed?

  • There is no single test to detect chronic pancreatitis.
  • Simple blood tests like blood count, Liver and Kidney profile, Blood sugar testing
  • Stool test for fat content
  • CT scan and/or MRIof the abdomen

What are the complications that can develop?

  • Pseudo-cyst - This is when pancreatic fluid collects into a cyst due to a blocked tube. Ansh Liver Clinic Prevention to Cure
  • Pancreatic duct stones- Due to excessive calcium deposition.
  • Blockage of the bile duct - this can cause jaundice.
  • Cancer of the pancreas - The risk increases in smokers and with increasing age.

What is the treatment for chronic pancreatitis?

  • Stop alcohol and smoking
  • Painkillers - Apart from painkillers, other techniques to block the pain may be considered, such as celiac axis nerve blocks to the pancreas. (can be done through transcutaneous or with endoscopic sonography)
  • Enzyme replacement medication.
  • Dietary restrictions./li>
  • Diabetes treatment- may need insulin injections.
  • Vitamins.
  • Surgery- Especially if there are pancreatic duct stones, pseudocyst or suspicion of cancer.

         Aug 8th, 2017


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