Related Terms

Atrophic Pancreas

Atrophic pancreas is the wasting away of the pancreas usually from chronic pancreatitis or CP. CP is further defined as an inflammatory disease that is advanced and described by permanent morphologic changes and gradual formation of excessive fibrous tissue replacement of the gland. There is a loss of endocrine and exocrine function caused from the parenchymal and fibrotic damage. The primary symptoms are pain in the abdomen and indigestion which can be socially and physically debilitating.

Because of the therapeutic as well as diagnostic challenges, an interdisciplinary management strategy for treatment is required.

Pathologically the pancreas will become enlarged or atrophic, with or without calcifications or cysts. The ducts can be dilated, strictured or irregular. Essential pathologic features include patchy and irregular loss of ductal and acinar tissue, ductal changes, chronic inflammation and fibrosis. From this point the problems with the pancreas will only get progressively worse.

Heavy as well as prolonged alcohol use is the most common reason for CP. CP that is alcohol-related is linked to calcification that is more extensive, more severe pain, more extensive ductal changes as well as more progression to exocrine and endocrine insufficiency. Most patients will have experienced recurrent episodes of acute pancreatitis for many years before CP even develops.

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