Examining the Causes of Chronic Pancreatitis in Women

APRIL 03, 2016
Andrew Smith
Analysis of a multicenter cohort indicates that the causes of chronic pancreatitis vary significantly in men and women and that the phenotype of the disease is independent of patient sex.
Chronic pancreatitis, which is the most common cause of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, was long considered a disease of alcoholic men, but women accounted for 45% of the 521 cases that were documented in the cohort.
Those women were significantly less likely than their male counterparts to have alcohol-related disease (30% vs 58.5%) and significantly more likely than the men to have disease that stemmed from idiopathic, (32% vs 18%), obstructive (12% vs 2.4%) or genetic (12.8% vs 7.3%) causes.
Male and female patients were demographically similar and experienced comparable levels of pain, exocrine insufficiency, endocrine insufficiency and pancreatitis-related disability. Morphologic findings were similar for members of both groups, as was their use of medications.
Surgical treatments did vary significantly between the 2 groups. Sphincterotomy (biliary, 33% vs 24%; pancreatic, 38% vs 28%; P < 0.05) was performed more frequently in women, whereas cyst/pseudocyst operations were more common in men (6.6% vs 2.6%, P = 0.02).
“Most chronic pancreatitis cases in women are from nonalcoholic etiologies,” the study authors concluded in Pancreas. “In contrast to many other chronic diseases, clinical phenotype of chronic pancreatitis is determined by the disease and is independent of sex.”

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