An overview of the diagnosis and management of nutrition in chronic pancreatitis

Elham Afghani, Amitasha Sinha, Vikesh K Singh
Nutrition in Clinical Practice 2014, 29 (3): 295-311
Chronic pancreatitis is characterized by long-standing inflammation of the pancreas, which results in fibrosis and the gradual loss of pancreatic function. The loss of islets and acinar cells results in diabetes and exocrine insufficiency, respectively. Exocrine insufficiency can result in maldigestion of fat, protein, and carbohydrate as well as vitamins and minerals. Patients may present with variable severity of disease, from mild to severe. The diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis can be challenging, especially in patients with early or mild disease who have few to no morphologic abnormalities on standard abdominal imaging studies. A number of imaging modalities and tests have evolved to aid in the diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis based on changes in structure or function. Clinicians typically focus on treating pain in chronic pancreatitis as opposed to exocrine insufficiency, despite the fact that maldigestion and malabsorption can result in nutrition deficiencies. The aims of this review are to describe the various modalities used to diagnose chronic pancreatitis, to illustrate the nutrition deficiencies associated with exocrine insufficiency, and to provide an overview of nutrition assessment and treatment in these patients.

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