Nutrition in pancreatic diseases

Rémy F Meier, Christoph Beglinger
Best Practice & Research. Clinical Gastroenterology 2006, 20 (3): 507-29
The pancreas plays a major role in nutrient digestion. Therefore, in both acute and chronic pancreatitis, exocrine and endocrine pancreatic insufficiency can develop, impairing digestive and absorptive processes. These changes can lead to malnutrition over time. In parallel to these changes, decreased caloric intake and increased metabolic activity are often present. Nutritional deficiencies negatively affect outcome if they are not treated. Nutritional assessment and the clinical severity of the disease are important for planning any nutritional intervention. In severe acute pancreatitis, enteral nutrition with a naso-jejunal feeding tube and a low molecular diet displays clear advantages compared to parenteral nutrition. Infectious complications, length of hospital stay and the need for surgery are reduced. Furthermore, enteral nutrition is less costly than parenteral nutrition. Parenteral nutrition is reserved for patients who do not tolerate enteral nutrition. Abstinence from alcohol, dietary modifications and pancreatic enzyme supplementation is sufficient in over 80% of patients with chronic pancreatitis. In addition, oral supplements are helpful. Enteral nutrition can be necessary if weight loss continues. Parenteral nutrition is very seldom used in patients with chronic pancreatitis.

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