Calcifications in chronic pancreatitis
  • Calcifications in chronic pancreatitis

Chronic Pancreatitis

Most often, chronic inflammation is a result of long-time alcohol abuse, which causes a continuous inflammation to the pancreas. With time, this process leads to scarring of the pancreas, hardening of the gland, great abnormalities (narrowing, or even stone formation) in the pancreatic duct, and enlargement of a part of the pancreas, which may resemble a tumor. Chronic pancreatitis often causes upper abdominal or back pain (that can be incapacitating some times), diabetes mellitus (requiring insulin), and inability to properly absorb food leading to diarrhea or steatorrhea (fatty diarrhea).

Management of patients with chronic pancreatitis depends on its severity. In early stages, it is essential to stop alcohol consumption, but realistically this proves difficult for most patients. Most patients need professional psychological support in order to succeed in this task. However, even with complete discontinuation of alcohol, the damage already made to the pancreas does not resolve, but certainly stops there. Patients with more advanced stage of disease, those with incapacitating pain, insulin-dependent diabetes, significant abnormalities of the pancreatic duct may need surgical intervention. There are several surgical options available and the selection among them depends on the individual needs of each patient and on the particular main complication(s) of chronic pancreatitis in this patient.