Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy in chronic pancreatitis

E C M Sikkens, D L Cahen, E J Kuipers, M J Bruno
Best Practice & Research. Clinical Gastroenterology 2010, 24 (3): 337-47
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is a serious condition which occurs in several diseases including chronic pancreatitis (CP), cystic fibrosis, pancreatic cancer, and as a result of pancreatic surgery. The lack or absence of pancreatic enzymes leads to an inadequate absorption of fat, proteins, and carbohydrates, causing steatorrhoea and creathorrhea which results in abdominal discomfort, weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies. To avoid malnutrition related morbidity and mortality, it is pivotal to commence pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) as soon as EPI is diagnosed. Factors as early acidic inactivation of ingested enzymes, under dosage, and patient incompliance may prevent normalisation of nutrient absorption, in particular of fat digestion. This review focuses on the current status of how to diagnose and treat EPI.

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