Pancreatic enzyme therapy and nutritional status of outpatients with chronic pancreatitis

P A Trolli, D L Conwell, G Zuccaro
Gastroenterology Nursing: the Official Journal of the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates 2001, 24 (2): 84-7
Patients with chronic pancreatitis are at risk for poor nutritional status. The two major clinical features of chronic pancreatitis are abdominal pain and maldigestion, both resulting in malnutrition. Abdominal pain often results in decreased oral intake, and decreased enzyme production results in maldigestion. Enzyme therapy often is included in treating chronic pancreatitis. There is limited data on the nutritional assessment of outpatients with chronic pancreatitis, and the efficacy of the use of enzyme therapy remains controversial. Serum albumin level and measurement of ideal body weight are two simple measures of nutritional status that can be obtained by gastroenterology nurses. A retrospective chart review was done of patients seen in our outpatient clinic for management of chronic pancreatitis. Serum albumin levels, an indicator of protein calorie malnutrition, were reviewed for 34 patients. Thirty-three percent of these patients were found to have mild-to-moderate protein calorie malnutrition as evidenced by low serum albumin levels. Enzyme therapy information was reviewed for 33 patients. Patients receiving enzyme therapy had better nutritional status based on both serum albumin levels and percent of ideal body weight. Gastroenterology nurses can be instrumental in the recognition and treatment of nutritional deficiencies in chronic pancreatitis.

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