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  • Chronic or intermittent epigastric pain, steatorrhea, weight loss, abnormal pancreatic imaging.

  • A mnemonic for the predisposing factors of chronic pancreatitis is TIGAR-O: toxic-metabolic, idiopathic, genetic, autoimmune, recurrent and severe acute pancreatitis, or obstructive.


The incidence and prevalence of chronic pancreatitis in the United States are 5–8 and 42–73 per 100,000 population, respectively, with a peak in persons aged 46–55 years. Chronic pancreatitis occurs most often in patients with alcoholism (45–80% of all cases). The risk of chronic pancreatitis increases with the duration and amount of alcohol consumed, but pancreatitis develops in only 5–10% of heavy drinkers. Tobacco smoking is a risk factor for idiopathic chronic pancreatitis and has been reported to accelerate progression of alcohol-associated chronic pancreatitis. About 2% of patients with hyperparathyroidism develop pancreatitis. In tropical Africa and Asia, tropical pancreatitis, related in part to malnutrition, is the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis. By contrast, in Western societies, obesity can lead to pancreatic steatosis, which may lead ultimately to pancreatic exocrine and endocrine insufficiency and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. A stricture, stone, or tumor obstructing the pancreas can lead to obstructive chronic pancreatitis. Autoimmune pancreatitis is associated with hypergammaglobulinemia (IgG4 in particular), often with autoantibodies and other autoimmune diseases, and is responsive to corticosteroids. Affected persons are at increased risk for various cancers. Type 1 autoimmune pancreatitis (lymphoplasmacytic sclerosing pancreatitis, or simply autoimmune pancreatitis) is a multisystem disease, typically in a patient over age 60, characterized by lymphoplasmacytic infiltration and fibrosis on biopsy, associated bile duct strictures, retroperitoneal fibrosis, renal and salivary gland lesions, and a high rate of relapse after treatment. It is the pancreatic manifestation of IgG4-related disease. Type 2 (“idiopathic duct-centric chronic pancreatitis”) affects the pancreas alone, typically in a patient aged 40–50 years, and is characterized by intense duct-centric lymphoplasmacytic infiltration on biopsy, lack of systemic IgG4 involvement, an association with IBD in 25% of cases, often a tumor-like mass, and a low rate of relapse after treatment. Type 3 autoimmune pancreatitis is a relatively infrequent complication of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Between 10% and 30% of cases of chronic pancreatitis are idiopathic, with either early onset (median age 20) or late onset (median age 58). Genetic factors may predispose to chronic pancreatitis in nearly half of the early-onset cases and a quarter of the late-onset cases and include pathogenic variants of the CFTR gene, the pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitory gene (PSTI, also known as the serine protease inhibitor, SPINK1), the chymotrypsin-C (CTRC) gene, and the genes for carboxypeptidase A1 (CPA1) and possibly uridine 5′-diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase (UGT1A7). A variant of the cationic trypsinogen gene on chromosome 7 (serine protease 1, PRSS1) is associated with hereditary pancreatitis, transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait with variable penetrance. In addition, a variant in an X-linked gene CLDN2...

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