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Pancreatic Cyst: Diagnosis and Treatment

  • A pancreatic cyst is an abnormal sac-like growth that resides on or inside the pancreas. Where is the pancreas you ask? It’s located deep in the abdomen in between the stomach and the
  • Symptoms of pancreas problems include pancreas enzymes prematurely digesting some of the pancreas itself, an inflamed pancreas that causes severe abdominal pain, and persistent abdominal and back pain
  • Having a pancreatic cyst does not always mean there will be symptoms. Some people have a pancreatic cyst or a psuedocyst and experience no problems
  • Pancreatic cysts can become infected and may be cancerous so see a doctor if persistent abdominal pain and fever persist

With the advent of modern technology the diagnosis of the pancreatic cyst has increased. Not because more people are getting them but because they are now more easily detected. Many times a pancreatic cyst is discovered during a scan of the abdomen while looking for other abdominal health problems. As mentioned earlier, there are often times no symptoms of pancreas problems.

The pancreas is an important organ in the body. So you might be asking yourself where is the pancreas and what does it do? It’s located in the upper abdomen and adjacent to the small intestine. It breaks down protein, carbohydrates and fat using digestive enzymes. The pancreas also regulates blood sugar levels in the human body as well as neutralizes stomach acids. The pancreas is actually both a gland and an organ because it does produce several important hormones including insulin, and glucagon. The pancreas was first identified by the Greek surgeon Herophilus, but was not given its official name until a few hundred years later when it was named by another Greek surgeon name Ruphos.

Pancreatitis often precedes the formation of a pancreatic cyst or cysts. Pancreatitis is a painful condition that causes the pancreas to digest itself because the pancreas enzymes start digesting too soon. If untreated long enough an inflamed pancreas can cause irreversible damage to the pancreas and surrounding areas of the body. Drinking too much alcohol is a major factor in the formation of a pancreatic cyst so it behooves the person suffering from symptoms to stop alcohol consumption immediately.

Most cysts are detected by an ultrasound, CT scan or and MRI. Many times, if a pancreatic cyst is found, the doctor will order an endoscopic ultrasound so that fluid from the pancreatic cyst can be found.

There are several different types of cysts that reside within or on the pancreas. The location of the pancreatic cyst, as well as the age and sex of the patient helps to determine what type of cyst it is. Most pancreatic cysts are not harmful and can easily be treated.

Many times no treatment is required or a simple draining of the cyst is all that needs to be done. In extreme cases surgery can be done to remove the cyst. Once the pancreatic cyst is removed there is little chance it will come back.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.