Prevalence of Radiological Chronic Pancreatitis and Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in Patients with Decompensated Liver Disease: Is Fecal Elastase Useful in This Setting?
Chronic alcohol consumption is a well-known etiological factor for both chronic pancreatitis (CP) and liver cirrhosis. However, there is discussion over how often these two entities are present together in the same patient. The main goal of our study is to establish the prevalence of CP and low fecal elastase (FE-1) in patients with decompensated liver disease (DLD). In addition, we aim to identify the demographic, epidemiological and clinical factors associated with EPI and CP in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis. This was an observational single-center study including 119 consecutive patients hospitalized for acute decompensation of cirrhosis, mostly of alcoholic etiology. Patients underwent computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the radiological features of CP. We also performed two FE-1 tests and complete blood tests to assess the presence of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and nutritional status, including micronutrients. The results of our study show that 32 patients (26.9%) had low fecal elastase suggesting EPI and 11 (9.2%) had CP. Patients meeting radiological CP criteria had lower FE-1 than patients without CP. There were no statistically significant differences in micronutrient deficiencies according to the presence of CP or not. Likewise, we did not find any statistically significant differences in micronutrient deficiencies among patients with normal and low FE-1 indicative of EPI. FE-1 alone may not be suitable for assessing EPI in patients with acute DLD. Detecting co-existing pancreatic disease may be important in a subset of patients with DLD, when the FE-1 levels are significantly low, potentially suggestive of a pancreatic anomaly. Moreover, the clinical manifestations of EPI and CP are not useful in detecting CP in DLD patients. Likewise, CP cannot explain all causes of EPI in these patients.
Chronic pancreatitis; Decompensated cirrhosis; Micronutrient deficiencies
Llibre-Nieto G, Lira A, Vergara M, Casas M, Solé C, Ferrusquía-Acosta J, et al. Prevalence of Radiological Chronic Pancreatitis and Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in Patients with Decompensated Liver Disease: Is Fecal Elastase Useful in This Setting? Nutrients. 2023 Jan 11;15(2):375.
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