[Nutritional repercussions and management of chronic pancreatitis]

F Botella Romero, J J Alfaro Martínez
Nutrición Hospitalaria: Organo Oficial de la Sociedad Española de Nutrición Parenteral y Enteral 2008, 23 Suppl 2: 59-63
The pancreas is a retroperitoneal organ that releases water, bicarbonate and digestive enzymes by the main pancreatic duct (MPD) into the duodenum. Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is typically caused, in adults, by chronic alcohol abuse and, less frequently hypertriglyceridemia, primary hyperparathyroidism or cystic fibrosis. Exocrine dysfunction results in malabsorption of fat and subsequent steatorrhea. Damage to pancreatic endocrine function is a late finding in CP and results in hyperglycaemia or overt diabetes mellitus. Care of patients with CP principally involves management of pain. A significant change in the pain pattern or the sudden onset of persistent symptoms suggests the need to rule out other potential etiologies, including peptic ulcer disease, biliary obstruction, pseudocysts, pancreatic carcinoma, and pancreatic duct stricture or stones, then is important to establish a secure diagnosis. Management of pain should then proceed in a judicious stepwise approach avoiding opioids dependence. Patients should be advised to stop alcohol intake. Fat malabsorption and other complications may also arise. Management of steatorrhea should begin with small meals and restriction in fat intake. Pancreatic enzyme supplements can relieve symptoms and reduce malabsorption in patients who do not respond to dietary restriction. Enzymes at high doses should be used with meals. Treatment with acid suppression to reduce inactivation of the enzymes from gastric acid are recommended. Supplementation with medium chain triglycerides and fat soluble vitamin replacement may be required. Management of other complications (such as pseudocysts, bile duct or duodenal obstruction, pancreatic ascites, splenic vein thrombosis and pseudoaneurysms) often requires aggressive approach with the patient kept on total parenteral nutrition to minimize pancreatic stimulation.

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