What is it?
Pancreatic insufficiency is the inability of the pancreas to produce and/or transport enough digestive enzymes to break down food in the intestine and allow its absorption. It typically occurs as a result of long term pancreatic damage - damage that may be caused by a variety of conditions. In children it is most frequently associated with cystic fibrosis less commonly with a rare inherited condition, the Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS). In adults it may follow pancreatic damage caused by repeated attacks of acute panreatitis or by chronic pancreatitis; it is less frequently but sometimes associated with pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic insufficiency usually results in symptoms of malabsorption, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and weight loss (or in children who do not gain weight at the normal rate) and is often associated with pale, fatty, foul-smelling, floating stools (steatorrhoea). Diabetes may also be present in adults with pancreatic insufficiency.