Understanding Pancreas

What is Pancreas?

Pancreas is a gland i.e. 20 cm long situated behind the stomach and is close to the duodenum in the small intestine.

Functions and importance of Pancreas:

It is an organ of the digestive system and has both exocrine and endocrine functions:

  1. Production and secretion of the hormones, such as insulin and glucagon.
  2. Regulation of Blood Sugar Level
  3. Secretion of pancreatic juice into the duodenum.
  4. Helps and aid digestion of food, particularly protein.

Common Diseases associated with Pancreas:

  1. Diabetes Mellitus
  2. Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis
  3. Hereditary Pancreatitis
  4. Pancreatic Cancer

Acute pancreatitis

Definition: Inflammation of the pancreas that develops quickly. About 80,000 cases of pancreatitis occur in the US every year.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain. It usually settles in a few days but sometimes it becomessevere and very serious. The most common causes of acute pancreatitis are gallstones and drinking a lot of alcohol.
  • Change in Stool color: Pale yellow, foul smelling stool
  • Malabsorption of fat

Other symptoms:

  1. Abdominal pain.
  2. Pancreatitis can be an acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) condition.
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Abdominal pain that may radiate to the back
  5. Pain that worsens after eating
  6. Chills and fever
  7. Tenderness of the abdomen to touch
  8. Lethargy and weakness

Diagnosis: blood and imaging tests.

Treatment: Immediate hospitalization; however, treatment of chronic pancreatitis may be managed in an outpatient setting.

Complications of pancreatitis may include:

    1. Diabetes
    2. pancreatic cancer
    3. malnutrition
    4. infection
    5. pseudocyst formation