Diagnosing chronic pancreatitis

Diagnosing chronic pancreatitis

Family history, physical exam, and nutrient deficiencies

Aminu Mohammed, MD

Aminu Mohammed is a pediatric gastroenterologist at GI Care for Kids, where he leads the efforts on pancreatic disorders.

A thorough medical history will often point to the source of their problem. A family history will uncover hereditary pancreatitis  or whether a family member has had episodes of pancreatitis.

A physical examination will often show tenderness in the upper abdomen where the pancreas is located. Additionally, the doctor will look for signs of anemia and other evidence of vitamin and nutritional deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies are the result of poor digestion and intestinal absorption and pancreatic enzyme cell damage that is common in pancreatitis. This is known as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or EPI.

Diagnosing chronic pancreatitis

The information gathered from history and physical examination is then used to direct further testing.

Most children with chronic pancreatitis have had a previous attack of pancreatitis, a problem with the pancreas or a condition like cystic fibrosis. Some may have had surgery on their pancreas as a baby for an abnormality.

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