Chronic pancreatitis

Adresse

Switzerland

Christian Toso
Professor
Christian Toso
Head of Division

Chronic pancreatitis refers to a chronic inflammatory process of the pancreas. This disease causes irreversible damage to pancreatic tissue, resulting in alterations of its digestive and hormonal functions.

The main causes of chronic pancreatitis are regular and excessive alcohol consumption, long term smoking, chronic obstruction of the pancreatic duct, genetic factors and certain chronic diseases.

Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis can be asymptomatic, or on the contrary, cause sharp central abdominal pain radiating to the back.

Impaired pancreatic function can cause fat malabsorption, which manifests as an abnormally high amount of fat in the stool (steatorrhea), insufficient production of pancreatic enzymes, and diabetes .

In addition, chronic inflammation induces changes in the pancreatic tissue which can lead to cysts formation, pancreatic cancer or other complications.

A complex diagnosis

The diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis is complex. It may require radiological (FR) (abdominal CT scan or MRI of the pancreas), functional (tests of the functions of the pancreas) or endoscopic (endoscopy ) examinations.

Chronic pancreatitis can be treated with or without surgery

The treatment of chronic pancreatitis is based on abstaining from alcohol (or other toxic substances), a low-fat diet, enzyme supplementation (if the pancreas cannot produce enough enzymes), painkillers and treatment of diabetes if present.

In some cases and in case of persistent pain, endoscopic treatment (placement of a stent ) or laparotomy including the derivation of the pancreatic duct or pancreatectomy may also be offered. In case of total removal of the pancreas , a self-transplantation of the islets of Langerhans may be proposed, in order to maintain the body´s production of insulin.

Diabetes
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Excess sugar in the blood due to a deficit in insulin production
Cysts
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lesions containing fluid
Endoscopy
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Method to visualize the internal organs and cavities for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, carried out using an endoscope, a tube to which the end is attached to a lamp and a camera
INFO + Echo-endoscopy (FR)
Diabetes
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Excess sugar in the blood due to a deficit in insulin production
Stent
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Tubular medical device inserted into a natural cavity to keep it open
Laparotomy
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Open surgery of the abdomen
Pancreatectomy
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Ablation of pancreas, or of a part pancreas
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Cells producing insulin

More information

Last update : 04/01/2022