Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency and Chronic Pancreatitis in Chronic Alcoholic Liver Disease: Coincidence or Shared Toxicity?

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The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and chronic pancreatitis (CP) in patients with chronic alcoholic liver disease and to analyze the possible associated factors.


This is an analytical observational study of cases and controls for a sample of patients with chronic alcoholic and nonalcoholic liver disease. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency was diagnosed using the 13C mixed-triglyceride breath test. Patients with abdominal pain underwent endoscopic ultrasonography for CP evaluation using the Wiersema criteria.


A total of 154 patients were included, 129 with alcoholic liver disease (83 with cirrhosis) and 25 with nonalcoholic liver disease. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency was found in 55.2% versus 16.7% (P < 0.001), 70% of patients without cirrhosis compared with 46.2% of patients with cirrhosis had pancreatic insufficiency (P = 0.017), and 82.7% of patients with alcoholic liver disease and abdominal pain had CP (P < 0.001). Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency was associated with the male sex, alcohol intake, abdominal pain, degree of liver failure, and the absence of portal hypertension. Chronic pancreatitis was correlated with age younger than 55 years and abdominal pain.


Patients with alcoholic liver disease had a high prevalence of EPI and CP; this prevalence was even higher in patients who have not yet developed cirrhosis with liver failure or portal hypertension.

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