Review article: enzyme supplementation in cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic and periampullary cancer


Emeritus Professor C. W. Imrie, Lister Department of Surgery, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 84 Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0SF, UK.


Background  Over 11 000 UK patients each year develop pancreatic exocrine insufficiency – the major causes are not rare: cystic fibrosis (>300 new cases/year), pancreatic cancer (>7000 new cases/year) and chronic pancreatitis (>4000 new cases/year). Affected patients present in diverse ways, and for chronic pancreatitis, diagnosis is frequently made rather late in the course of the disease.

Aim  To raise awareness of key clinical issues specific to patients with pancreatic exocrine insufficiency through experience from UK clinicians, and to offer advice regarding appropriate treatment with pancreatic enzymes.

Methods  Three case studies describe clinical issues relating to pancreatic enzyme supplementation that may lead to underuse in patients with cystic fibrosis, pancreatic and periampullary cancer or chronic pancreatitis.

Results  The efficacy of the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is dependent on adequate meal-time enzyme replacement therapy. Improvements in patients’ weight and nutritional status are what is aimed for – an important reason for all doctors, nurses and dieticians to give this therapy close attention.

Conclusions  Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency may result in malnutrition, but enzyme supplementation can greatly improve quality of life in these patients.

Aliment Pharmacol Ther32 (Suppl. 1), 1–25