What is the pancreas?
It is a “silent,” solid organ positioned behind the stomach in the upper part of the abdomen. Different cells produce digestive “juices” or enzymes, while the others produce hormones. The pancreatic enzymes break proteins, fat, carbohydrates. Pancreatic juice through small channel draining into the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. Food that passes through the duodenum stimulates the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. The most important hormone the pancreas produces is insulin, which controls the amount of glucose in our bloodstream. In addition to insulin, the pancreas makes other hormones, all of which pass into the blood that flows through the organ.
What are the most common problems that affect the pancreas?
Normally the pancreas does not cause us much trouble, but when it does, the symptoms can be quite bothersome and, in some cases, fatal. Pancreatitis is the most common pancreatic condition, categorized as either acute and chronic. In acute pancreatitis the organ suddenly becomes swollen and releases digestive juices into the bloodstream. After an acute attack a patient may either completely recover or have several more episodes, which can lead to chronic pancreatitis. This is characterized by persistent abdominal pain, intolerance of food and sometimes disabling nausea diarrhoea, weight loss. Perhaps the most feared condition is pancreatic cancer, since it is almost always fatal.
What causes these pancreastic conditions
Acute pancreatitis is usually caused by a gallstone getting stuck in the bile duct which share common channel with pancreatic duct. Furthermore, alcoholism, abdominal injuries, parathyroid adenoma, autoimmune, high triglyceride levels are other causes Chronic pancreatitis can be caused by any one of the triggers associated with acute episodes, but the most common one is excessive use of alcohol apart from pancreatic divisum and other reare causes.
Pancreatic cancer occurs without any apparent reason, although smoking seems to be the only known preventable risk factor.
What are the warning signs of pancreatic problems?
Pancreatic conditions can produce severe upper abdominal pain usually refer to ack or no symptoms. In addition, if the patient experiences loss of weight, either chronic pancreatitis or cancer should be considered. Most pancreatic cancer patients have minimal or no symptoms until later, less curable stages, and the symptoms that do arise are usually the same as those for chronic pancreatitis. Jaundice may be the typical presentation for pancreatic cancer.
If I suspect a pancreatic problem, what should I do?
If the symptoms are severe, seek immediate medical help. Severe acute pancreatitis may require hospitalization. At the very least, a series of tests should be performed to establish a diagnosis as per advised given by dpecialist (Surgical or Medical Gastroenterologist). Prescribed blood test, Ultrasonography, CT scan, Endoscopic interventions can be utilized after consultation with specialist to diagnose as well as to guide the treatment.
What are some of the other tests and treatments available today to treat pancreatitis and other common problems?
Using ERCP technology, doctors can place stents where there is a stricture or narrowing of the ducts. Modern equipments like Endosonography and laparoscopic surgery have changed the outcome and quality of life even after major pancreatic surgey. With utmost expertise and advanced instruments team of Superspecialist doctors/surgeons for pancreatic problems are available at SIDS Hospital.