What is Fatty Pancreas?
Fat accumulated around the pancreas is known as intrapancreatic fat and the condition is commonly called the fatty pancreas.
Causes of fatty pancreas
- Heavy alcohol consumption is the most common cause of fatty pancreas, because, in the body, alcohol is broken down into substances that are toxic to the pancreas.
- Obesity or being overweight can result in the deposition of fat around the organs such as the pancreas and the infiltration of this excess fat in the pancreas.
- Congenital syndrome- In some rare cases, a fatty pancreas is present since birth.
- A weak metabolic system results in high cholesterol which can also cause a fatty pancreas.
Some common signs and symptoms of fatty pancreas
Although there are no direct signs and symptoms seen for fatty pancreas the diseases caused by fatty pancreas have many severe symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain in the upper abdomen can occur in some cases
- Some people with fatty pancreas may experience a rapid pulse
- A feeling of nausea and tightness is common in this condition
- Vomiting is also common in some cases
- Tenderness can be experienced when touching the abdominal wall
- Changes can be observed in the appearance and smell of the stools
Fatty pancreas Treatment
- The best way to reduce fatty pancreas is to change your lifestyle and follow a healthy one.
- Avoiding alcohol- In some cases, alcohol is not the direct cause of fatty pancreas but avoiding alcohol consumption can prevent further damage to the pancreas.
- Quit smoking- Smoking can accelerate the damage caused by diseases that are led by the fatty pancreas, making the pancreas stop working sooner.
- The fatty pancreas may affect digestion and can affect the ability to digest certain foods. Introducing low-fat and high-protein food to the diet can be beneficial.
- Enzyme supplements may be beneficial to improve the digestive system.
Risk factors involving the fatty pancreas
- Obesity- Being overweight will result in high body fat content which will result in an increased risk of a fatty pancreas.
- Alcohol- The heavy and regular intake of alcohol can increase the risk of fatty pancreas occurrence.
- Metabolic diseases can increase the risk of getting a fatty pancreas.
- Fatty liver can also be one of the risk factors for the fatty pancreas.
- Infection and autoimmune diseases may also be the reasons for the fatty pancreas.
Stages of fatty pancreas
There are four stages of the fatty pancreas:
- The control group is also known as the non-fatty pancreas, where pancreas echogenicity is similar to kidney parenchymal echogenicity.
- Light fatty pancreas, where pancreas echogenicity is higher than kidney echogenicity but much lower than retroperitoneal fat echogenicity.
- Severely fatty pancreas, where pancreas echogenicity is higher than kidney echogenicity but slightly lower than retroperitoneal fat echogenicity
- Highly fatty pancreas, where pancreas echogenicity is similar to retroperitoneal fat echogenicity.
Tests to diagnose fatty pancreas
A blood test is used to look for the increase in pancreatic enzymes. If found abnormal following tests such as an abdominal ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and stool tests are performed.
Primary prevention for fatty pancreas
The most effective way to prevent fatty pancreas conditions to develop is to make subtle changes to the lifestyle and develop healthy habits, such as:
- Avoid alcohol because alcohol breakdown in the body releases toxins that are extremely harmful to the pancreas.
- A healthy and balanced diet can be a major contributing factor in preventing fatty pancreas.
- Avoid smoking to prevent fatty pancreas as it can be one of the factors responsible for this condition.
- Exercising regularly and losing excess weight will prevent fatty pancreas.
The alternate name for fatty pancreas
The fatty pancreas is also called pancreatic steatosis.
The differential diagnosis for fatty pancreas
An abdominal ultrasound is the most common method of diagnosing fatty pancreas. To further understand the nature and severity of the condition, tests like CT scans and MRI are also performed.
Epidemiology of fatty pancreas
- The epidemiology of fatty pancreas differs with age and sex, in most cases, it depends on the lifestyle and eating habits.
- The fatty pancreas is a frequent finding during a medical check-up with a prevalence of 35%. It has a significant connection with metabolic factors.
- Studies show that pancreatic disorders are more common in the black population.
Expected prognosis of fatty pancreas
As there are not many studies available on the fatty pancreas and the clinical effect of the condition is still widely unknown, it is found in common cases that the progression of the fatty pancreas could lead to chronic pancreatitis and possibly pancreatic cancer development.
The natural progression of fatty pancreas
Making healthy changes to lifestyle and eating habits can help prevent the fatty pancreas from becoming severe. If the severity of the condition is ignored, it could possibly lead to many acute and chronic pancreatic disorders and can also result in pancreatic cancer in some cases.
Pathophysiology of fatty pancreas
In this condition, excessive fat gets accumulated in and around the pancreas which creates an imbalance of pancreatic enzymes. As a result, these enzymes apply high pressure on the pancreatic wall. This high pressure of pancreatic enzymes contributes to toxic bile salts in the pancreas rupturing the pancreatic walls and causing pancreatitis.
The fatty pancreas can be diagnosed and contained but if not treated with necessary measures the effects can get worse causing complications, and the severity of the condition can cause many diseases and can even lead to pancreatic cancer.
Having a fatty pancreas can also increase the risk of a patient being type 2 diabetic. The common factors that cause fatty pancreas also contribute to a high risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Our Medical Fatty Pancreas Treatment in Mumbai, India Experts
If you are facing any similar signs or symptoms please contact the Nanavati Max team to schedule an appointment at : +91 22 6836 0000