Causes Of Annular Pancreas and Its Treatment

About Annular Pancreas:

Pancreas is located behind the stomach. It works by producing enzymes that aids in digestion of food. An additional function of the pancreas is to produce insulin which is extremely necessary to control blood sugar levels in the body. During the development of embryo the pancreas are in the form of two separate buds. These buds join together as the embryo grows around the duodenum. There is a small duct that connects the duodenum to the small intestine. It is through this duct that the enzymes produced by the pancreas get to the small intestine and help in digestion of food.[2]

However, sometimes what happens is that the two separate buds that form the pancreas in a baby do not fuse properly and there is a ring of pancreatic tissue that forms around the duodenum. This is what is termed as Annular Pancreas. This condition can be easily detected during a prenatal ultrasound. In most cases however physicians diagnose Annular Pancreas when they notice signs of intestinal blockages in newborn babies.[2]

Since the condition rarely causes any health issues, there are many adults who come to know about Annular Pancreas when they get tested for some other condition. There are some cases where Annular Pancreas has led to some gastrointestinal problems much later in the life of an individual.[2] Read below to know more about the causes and treatment options for Annular Pancreas.

What are the Causes of Annular Pancreas?

As stated, Annular Pancreas develops when the two buds of the pancreas in a developing embryo do not fuse correctly to form the pancreas. Why does this happen is still a mystery to physicians and researchers. Another mystery with regard to Annular Pancreas is that it is still not known why some people have symptoms due to this condition whereas others do not have any health problems.[1]

Annular Pancreas is quite rare and only 5-10 newborns out of 100,000 births have this condition. In adults also, Annular Pancreas is quite rare and is only diagnosed after the individual has had some complications as a result of this condition like gastric outlet obstruction or recurrent pancreatitis.[1]

How is Annular Pancreas Treated?

Majority of the cases of Annular Pancreas are asymptomatic and thus no treatment is required in such instances. In cases where there is intestinal obstruction as a result of this condition, it can significantly interfere with digestion and also causes pain. This may even lead to potentially serious complications. This is when physicians recommend surgery to treat Annular Pancreas.[2]

At times, Annular Pancreas can cause such a severe blockage that the body is not able to absorb nutrients from the food that is eaten. If such a situation arises then the physician either chooses a feeding tube placement or administers IV fluids to prevent malnutrition. This is especially in newborns with Annular Pancreas.[2]

The surgery for treating Annular Pancreas is done under general anesthetic. Prior to surgery the physician will give clear instructions on diet and fluid intake which will have to be followed judiciously. Depending on the location of the obstruction, an open surgery or a keyhole surgery will be contemplated. In this surgery, the surgeon will create a duct which will bypass the blockage such that the enzymes produced by the pancreas go through this newly created duct and normal digestion is restored.[2]

In rare instances, a segment of the intestine is removed as a part of surgery for Annular Pancreas. If this is done then post surgery the patient will have to follow strict guidelines with regard to diet and lifestyle habits. In other cases, once surgery is completed after the healing period is over the patient may resume normal diet and generally start to have normal bowel movements.[2]

In cases of newborns undergoing surgery for Annular Pancreas, they may not be able to lie on their stomachs for a few weeks until all the wounds are healed. The recovery after surgery depends on the severity of the blockage and the surgery done to correct the condition. Duodenal blockage is the most common complication that arises out of Annular Pancreas. This blockage makes it tough for food to pass through the intestine. It also makes it difficult to pass stool and absorb nutrients from the food.[2]

There are also cases where an individual develops intestinal infection due to Annular Pancreas. This causes sudden onset jaundice, severe abdominal pain and vomiting. This is an emergent situation and the individual should consult with a physician immediately.[2]

Majority of the complications due to Annular Pancreas can be treated rapidly and successfully with timely medical care and the overall prognosis is quite good. For people who have undergone surgery for Annular Pancreas, they may end up having complications to include anesthetic reactions, infection at the incision site, intestinal infections, and pain. On occasions, patients may require a repeat procedure as a result of Annular Pancreas.[2]

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