Here you will find an overview of chronic pancreatitis and learn why MCT fats have an important role to play in the dietetic management.
Chronic pancreatitis means constantly recurring, sometimes even barely noticeable inflammation which lead to the degeneration of pancreatic tissue and to the irreversible transformation of this tissue into scar tissue. Ultimately, this results in the slow and progressive destruction of the pancreas and pancreatic insufficiency. As an exocrine gland, the pancreas produces the digestive enzyme lipase and as an endocrine gland it produces the hormones insulin and glucagon. This means that a differentiation can be made between exocrine and endocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
Chronic pancreatitis is one of the most common conditions affecting the pancreas with the number of cases increasing. Men are more frequently affected than women, and it is most common between the ages of 30 and 50. A great geographic variation can be observed in its prevalence. France, Finland and Sweden are at the top (26, 23 and 14:100,000), followed by Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic (5–6:100,000). A low prevalence has been identified in Switzerland (1.3:100,000). In Germany, 8.2 people per 100,000 inhabitants are newly affected every year.
The most common causes are excessive alcohol consumption (in 60–70% of cases), hereditary defects and chronic cholelithiasis.
The symptomatic treatment is stage-appropriate and therefore requires knowledge of the clinical picture and the possible complications. Chronic pancreatitis can be divided into three stages:
Preclinical stage without manifest symptoms, already with chronic inflammatory changes to the organ.
Clinical symptoms in the form of recurring, acute pain and secondary complications. With the increasing decay of pancreatic tissue, the intensity of the clinical symptoms subsides. Some patients also display a chronic pain syndrome and a disease progression without typical pains. The most frequent complication is the occurrence of pancreatic pseudocysts with the most wide-ranging symptoms.
Progressive exocrine and endocrine insufficiency with increasing diarrhoea and steatorrhoea, further weight loss and symptoms of diabetes mellitus. As a result of primary pain-free progression, in around 10% of all patients the condition only becomes clinically noticeable in stage III due to progressive weight loss.
The symptomatic treatment has multiple levels and is made up of medical and dietetic treatment: