Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI) is a common serious complication in chronic pancreatitis (CP); however, little is known about its effect on mortality in these patients. In this study, we assessed the mortality risk of PEI in patients with CP.
A prospective, longitudinal cohort study conducted in patients with CP under long-term follow-up. CP and PEI were diagnosed using pancreatic imaging and the 13C-labeled mixed triglyceride breath test, respectively. Multivariate analysis was performed to evaluate the impact of PEI and other clinical features on mortality risk.
Patients (N=430) were analyzed (79.1% male; mean age, 47.8 y) during a mean follow-up of 8.6±4.6 years. PEI prevalence was 29.3% and mortality was 10.9%. Most frequent causes of death were cancer (40.4%), infection (21.3%), and acute cardiovascular event (14.9%). Multivariate analyses showed associations between increased mortality and presence of PEI [hazard ratio (HR), 2.59; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.42-4.71; P<0.003], liver cirrhosis (HR, 3.87; 95% CI, 1.95-7.69; P<0.001), age at diagnosis (HR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.03-1.09; P<0.001), toxic etiology of CP (HR, 3.11; 95% CI, 1.11-8.70; P<0.05) and respiratory comorbidity (HR, 2.19; 95% CI, 1.12-4.31; P<0.03). Nutritional markers were significantly lower in patients with PEI versus those without PEI (P<0.001) and in those who died versus survivors (P<0.001).
PEI was a significant independent risk factor for mortality in patients with CP. These results support further research into the optimal treatment of PEI to reduce mortality in this population.