Underlying conditions and surgical procedures
Certain underlying conditions and surgical procedures affect the pancreas and may lead to EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency).
Underlying conditions or surgical procedures
that may lead to EPI
An inherited genetic condition that leads to chronic disease, CF causes a thick, sticky mucus to be produced in certain organs. If this mucus clogs the pancreas and causes damage, making it difficult for digestive enzymes to reach the intestine, this can lead to EPI.
A chronic inflammatory disease of the pancreas, CP is the most common cause of EPI in adults.
An operation to remove all or part of the pancreas, a pancreatectomy could limit or stop pancreatic digestive enzyme production or delivery leading to EPI.
Obstruction of the pancreatic duct by tumors, destruction of the pancreas by tumor growth, and loss of pancreatic tissue from surgery—all potential results of pancreatic cancer—can lead to EPI.
Other underlying conditions or surgical procedures
in which EPI has been reported
A condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed, AP can lead to temporary or permanent EPI.
In Crohn's disease, inflammation and scarring of the intestines may prevent hormones from signaling to the pancreas that it should release enzymes, leading to EPI. Additionally, direct damage to the pancreas by the immune system can lead to EPI.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which eating gluten leads to damage of the small intestine. Though the intestinal damage is generally temporary and may improve with a gluten-free diet, untreated celiac disease can lead to EPI.
The inability to produce insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps control blood sugar, type 1 diabetes may also be an underlying condition that causes EPI.
Potentially affecting how pancreatic digestive enzymes are delivered to break down food, certain surgeries of the stomach or intestines can lead to EPI.
Answers to frequently
Because EPI affects your body’s ability to break down food, it may prevent you from absorbing enough nutrients, resulting in serious complications, such as malnutrition. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor if you think you might have EPI. If your doctor diagnoses you with EPI and prescribes a treatment, it’s important to continue taking it exactly as your doctor tells you.
Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapies (PERTs) are the standard of care for EPI. PERTs replace digestive enzymes that your body may be missing. Because PERTs help you digest food, they need to be taken every time you eat—with every meal and snack.
The signs and symptoms of EPI include diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach pain, unexplained weight loss, and oily, foul-smelling stools (steatorrhea). If you have EPI, you may experience one, some, or all of these symptoms. It’s important to tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms and let them know about your medical history because EPI is due to an underlying condition or surgical procedure. Only your doctor can determine if EPI is the cause of your symptoms.