Chronic pancreatitis is a progressive disorder in which the pancreas suffers damage and is unable to function normally due to long-standing inflammation. Over time, the inflammation can result in permanent damage to the organ. This condition is seen more often among men and it usually develops between the ages of 30-40. According to reports, nearly 86,000 patients are admitted to hospitals across the country each year due to chronic pancreatitis.
When the digestive enzymes are trapped within the pancreas and not allowed free movement into the intestines, it causes pain and scarring inside the pancreas. Several factors may cause chronic pancreatitis, such as:
Constant intake of excessive alcohol is the most common cause which accounts for almost 70% of cases of chronic pancreatitis.
It occurs when the body mistakenly attacks healthy pancreatic cells and tissues.
Inherited genetic mutations may adversely impact the functioning of your pancreas. Also, heredity diseases such as cystic fibrosis which causes mucus build-up in your lungs can cause chronic pancreatitis.
If you have the following symptoms, you may be suffering from chronic pancreatitis:
You may experience additional chronic pancreatitis symptoms when the disease advances and your pancreas is unable to produce digestive juices that are essential for the digestion of food, especially fats and certain proteins. They include:
Chronic pancreatitis caused by excessive alcohol abuse can be classified into 4 stages. They are:
Your doctor will perform a physical examination of your abdominal region. Also, they will ask you about your lifestyle choices, more specifically your drinking habits, and your family medical history of pancreatic disorders.
For an accurate diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis, you may have to undergo certain tests such as:
Lab tests such as blood, urine, and stool tests. They include fecal fat test, amylase test, lipase test, trypsinogen test, and bentiromide test
Your doctor, based on their diagnosis of your disease, may prescribe medications that may include:
However, you may require hospitalization if your symptoms worsen and are no longer managed by day-to-day treatment causing a deterioration in your physical condition. The advanced chronic pancreatitis treatment options offered are:
This procedure is used to reduce pain, remove blockages and pancreatic stones, and place small tubes called stents to plug leaks and improve the flow of enzymes.
You may need surgery if you suffer constant severe pain that does not respond to medicines. The procedure involved the removal of a part of your pancreas to ease the pain. It may also be used to remove blockages in the pancreatic duct, widen it if it’s too narrow, or drain cysts.
As the disease advances, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas suffer extensive damage due to which you may face certain complications such as:
While chronic pancreatitis can have long-term and serious effects, with proper diagnosis and treatment of your symptoms and making certain lifestyle changes such as abstaining from alcohol and smoking, you can live a long and normal life.
At Far North Surgery, our team of highly experienced and skilled board-certified surgeons offers the highest standards of medical care pertaining to general surgery with special emphasis on surgical oncology and endocrine surgery. To optimize patient experience, we offer state-of-the-art personalized care which includes collaborations with renowned specialists from across the country.
Our team is ably led by Dr. Madhu Prasad, a world-class surgeon with vast experience of over thirty years. His contribution to his field of work has seen him win several awards and accolades, the most notable being the Best of Anchorage Awards for Cancer Treatment.