Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency


What is Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency?

Pancreatic enzyme insufficiency is the under-production of digestive enzymes from the pancreas used to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in food. The under-production of pancreatic enzymes means that these nutrients are not broken down, resulting in malabsorption, the inability to absorb vital nutrients.

What Causes Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency?

This condition can result from pancreatitis, pancreatic surgery, or a few genetic diseases, including cystic fibrosis and Shwachman-Diamond syndrome.

What are the Symptoms of Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency?

Symptoms of pancreatic enzyme insufficiency include:

  • Diarrhea (frequently with fat droplets in the stool)
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling full
  • Abdominal pain

How is Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency Diagnosed?

The first step towards the diagnosis of pancreatic enzyme insufficiency is a clinical history and physical exam. A stool test is often collected and analyzed for high-fat content (steatorrhea), which is a sign of malabsorption. Blood work for malabsorption will also be run. Many possible additional tests are similar to those performed to check for pancreatitis, including CT, x-ray, and abdominal ultrasound.

What is the Treatment for Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency?

Pancreatic enzymes can be taken by mouth to replace those that are no longer made by the pancreas.

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