Chronic pancreatitis in a patient with malnutrition due to anorexia nervosa

Russell N. Wesson, Anna Sparaco, Martin D. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Context: Both acute and chronic pancreatitis are associated with eating disorders, including malnutrition found in anorexia, bulimia, and major depression. Case report: We report a case of a female patient suffering from severe malnutrition and anorexia with repeated attacks of pancreatic pain and an enlarging cystic lesion in the pancreatic head. Due to a progressively enlarging lesion on CT, a pancreaticoduodenectomy was performed. Histology demonstrated chronic pancreatitis. Conclusions: The pathogenesis of chronic pancreatitis remains to be well defined. There is evidence that an imbalance between oxidative stress and antioxidant capacity results in pancreatic inflammation and activation of periacinar myofibroblasts. It has been demonstrated that protein energy malnutrition is associated with increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines as well as pancreatic acinar cell damage and ductal disruption. Furthermore, it has been shown that protein energy malnutrition including anorexia nervosa is associated with a depleted antioxidant status. Thus there is a possible pathogenic basis for severe malnutrition leading to chronic pancreatitis. Our patient underwent surgery based on the presumption that she had a symptomatic cystic neoplasm. Chronic pancreatitis was demonstrated. Patients presenting with malnutrition and recurrent epigastric pain should be investigated for pancreatic pathology and the possibility of pancreatitis and the presence of pseudocysts entertained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-331
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Pancreas
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Eating disorders
  • Pancreatic pseudocyst
  • Pancreatitis, chronic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Hepatology
  • Endocrinology


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