Fast Five Quiz: Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency Presentation and Diagnosis

B.S. Anand, MD


May 04, 2020

Figure 1. Anatomy of the pancreas.

In patients with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, chronic protein malabsorption may result in edema secondary to hypoalbuminemia; loss of protein into the intestinal lumen can also cause peripheral edema. Among patients with severe protein depletion, ascites may develop.

Weight loss and steatorrhea are cardinal symptoms of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Patients most frequently have complaints of diarrhea, which is frequently watery, reflecting the osmotic load received by the intestine. Patients with steatorrhea have loose, greasy, foul-smelling stools that are difficult to flush.

Bacterial fermentation of unabsorbed food substances can lead to abdominal distension and flatulence, which in turn causes abdominal discomfort and cramps.

Learn more about the clinical presentation of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.


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