Pancreatic steatosis is an emerging clinical entity whose pathophysiology, natural history, and long-term complications are poorly characterized in the current literature. Epidemiological and prospective studies have described prevalence rates between 16% and 35%. Although the natural history is not well known, there are strong associations with obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Ectopic fat accumulation of the pancreas can cause chronic, low-grade inflammation from adipocytokine imbalances that involve beta cells and acinar cells. This mechanism can lead to pancreatic endocrine and exocrine dysfunction and initiate carcinogenesis. Although it is associated with morbid conditions, pancreatic steatosis may be amendable to treatment with a healthy diet, less meat consumption, exercise, and smoking cessation. Pancreatic steatosis should factor into clinical decision-making and prognostication of patients with pancreatic and systemic disease. This review seeks to describe the pathophysiology, natural history, diagnosis, and complications of this emerging clinically relevant entity.
1Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Correspondence: Resham Ramkissoon, MD. E-mail: email@example.com.
Received October 01, 2018
Accepted March 12, 2019