- Diabetes, type 1: The body’s immune system attacks and destroys the pancreas’ insulin-producing cells. Lifelong insulin injections are required to control blood sugar.
- Diabetes, type 2: The pancreas loses the ability to appropriately produce and release insulin. The body also becomes resistant to insulin, and blood sugar rises.
- Cystic fibrosis: A genetic disorder that affects multiple body systems, usually including the lungs and the pancreas. Digestive problems and diabetes often result.
- Pancreatic cancer: The pancreas has many different types of cells, each of which can give rise to a different type of tumor. The most common type arises from the cells that line the pancreatic duct. Because there are usually few or no early symptoms, pancreatic cancer is often advanced by the time it’s discovered.
Pancreas Medical Tests
- Physical examination: By pressing on the center of the belly, a doctor might check for a mass in the pancreas. He or she can also look for other signs of pancreas conditions.
- Computed tomography scan: A CT scanner takes multiple X-rays, and a computer creates detailed images of the pancreas and abdomen. Contrast dye may be injected into your veins to improve the images.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Magnetic waves create highly detailed images of the abdomen. Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is an MRI that focuses on the pancreas, liver, and bile system.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): Using a camera on a flexible tube advanced from the mouth to the intestine, a doctor can access the area of the pancreas head. Tiny surgical tools can be used to diagnose and treat some pancreas conditions.
Pancreas Medical Treatments
- Insulin: Injecting insulin under the skin causes body tissues to absorb glucose, lowering blood sugar. Insulin can be created in a lab or purified from animal sources.
- Pseudocyst drainage: A pseudocyst can be drained by inserting a tube or needle through the skin into the pseudocyst. Alternately, a small tube or stent is placed between either the pseudocyst and the stomach or the small intestine, draining the cyst.
- Pseudocyst surgery: Sometimes, surgery is necessary to remove a pseudocyst. Either laparoscopy (multiple small incisions) or laparotomy (one larger incision) may be needed.
- Pancreatic cancer resection (Whipple procedure): The standard surgery to remove pancreatic cancer. In a Whipple procedure, a surgeon removes the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, and the first section of the small intestine (the duodenum). Occasionally, a small part of the stomach is also removed.