Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency after pancreatic surgery

Goess R., Ceyhan G. O. , Friess H.

PANMINERVA MEDICA, vol.58, no.2, pp.151-159, 2016 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 58 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Title of Journal : PANMINERVA MEDICA
  • Page Numbers: pp.151-159


Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency is an often-underestimated complication following pancreatic surgery. After recent advances in managing acute postoperative complications the focus of current research is now shifting onto the long-term complications following pancreatectomy. Weight loss and steatorrhea as typical symptoms have high influence on the quality of life in the postoperative period. Malnutrition-related symptoms occur late and are often misinterpreted. Enzyme replacement therapy is more or less the only possible treatment option, even though not many controlled trials have been performed in this field. In this review we summarized the pathophysiology, diagnosis, risk factors and treatment options of exocrine insufficiency and focus mainly on patients with pancreaticoduodenectomy (classical Whipple), pylorus-preserving pancreaticoduodenectomy (ppWhipple) or distal pancreatectomy. Incidence of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency after surgery depends mainly on the initial diagnosis, the preoperative exocrine function and is associated with the extent of parenchyma resection. Diagnosing exocrine failure after surgery can be difficult and specific function tests are commonly not routinely performed. Starting and monitoring of enzyme replacement treatment is more based on clinical symptoms, than on objective markers. To improve the performance status of postsurgical patients it is important to consider pancreatic exocrine function as one aspect of quality of life. Further clinical trials should be initiated to gain more specific knowledge about the influence of the different pancreatic resections on pancreatic exocrine function to initialize proper treatment even before major clinical symptoms occur.