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.
INFO + Echo-endoscopy (FR)