EXOCRINE PANCREATIC INSUFFICIENCY
is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency?
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is the inability to produce
sufficient pancreatic enzymes to digest fats, carbohydrates and
proteins. Because there is poor digestion and malabsorption of
nutrients, weight loss despite an increased appetite is common.
Affected dogs often have large volumes of pale, fatty feces. This
condition is called steatorrhea or fat in the stool.
is the pancreas?
pancreas is a v-shaped gland lying close to the stomach and small
intestine. Secretions from the pancreas are carried to the small
intestine by the pancreatic duct.
is the function of the pancreas?
pancreas produces enzymes that digest fats, carbohydrates and
proteins. This is the exocrine function of the pancreas.
addition, the pancreas also produces insulin and other essential
hormones and compounds. Insulin regulates carbohydrate metabolism
and blood sugar (glucose) levels. This endocrine function is
separate from the digestive (exocrine) function.
causes this disease?
causes can be congenital (present from birth), inherited or acquired
as the result of pancreatic infection or injury. The condition is
seen more commonly in German Shepherds, Collies and English Setters.
main cause appears to be a progressive loss of pancreatic cells but
chronic pancreatitis can also result in EPI.
are the usual signs of the condition?
adult dogs are often affected and have chronic diarrhea or very
soft, bulky, fatty looking feces and excessive appetites, occasional
vomiting and gradual weight loss over a period of months.
the condition diagnosed?
blood and fecal tests can accurately detect if the condition is
present. Trypsinogen-like immunoassay (TLI) is the preferred
diagnostic test for EPI. TLI in combination with B12 and Folate
level tests give us the best assessment of your petís pancreatic
possible to treat the condition?
digestible, low fat diets together with pancreatic enzyme
replacement will usually stabilize the condition. Treatment is
usually for the rest of the dogís life.
diabetes involved with the condition?
Rarely. In cases that are the result of chronic pancreatitis, the
cells that produce insulin can also be affected. In these cases
diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) may also be present.
is the prognosis?
an accurate diagnosis has been established, most pets do well with
possible to cure the condition?
Cases due to chronic pancreatitis sometimes recover as the pancreas
heals. The main cause of EPI is the progressive destruction of the
exocrine cells of the pancreas. That can only be treated.