Caring for children with pancreatic insufficiency

Learn how our Gastroenterology, Liver and Nutrition Program cares for children with pancreatic insufficiency.

Related tests and treatments:

Our approach to pancreatic insufficiency

The Pancreatic Disorders Program at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin is one of the few in the United States that specializes in the care of children with diseases of the pancreas and gallbladder. We use a comprehensive method for evaluating even the most difficult-to-diagnose cases so that we can provide the best therapy. Whenever possible, we treat the underlying cause of pancreatic insufficiency so that your child can recover and go on to a normal life. When genetic disorders lead to chronic pancreatic insufficiency, we work with your family to manage the condition so your child is comfortable and can grow normally.

The Pancreatic Disorders Program is led by Dr. Steven Werlin, a world-renowned expert in pediatric pancreatic disease who has published more than 120 journal articles and over 55 book chapters in this area. Children’s Hospital is committed to research and participates in multicenter studies to help us learn more about how to best treat pancreatic conditions.

Pancreatic insufficiency services we offer

In addition to pediatric gastroenterologists with vast experience treating pancreatic disorders, our team includes experts in:

Diagnosing and treating pancreatic insufficiency

If your child’s doctor suspects malabsorption due to pancreatic insufficiency, he or she might first order blood tests and stool tests to see how well your child is absorbing nutrients. The doctor might also use imaging tests (such as X-rays, ultrasounds, MRCP or CT scan) to check for structural abnormalities or damage in the pancreas. Pancreatic stimulation, which is an endoscopic procedure that collects and measures enzyme levels in the pancreatic fluid, can be used to make a definitive diagnosis of pancreatic insufficiency.

In some causes we are able to treat and resolve the underlying cause, such as stretching an abnormal pancreatic duct or removing the gallbladder if gallstones are a problem. When the issue is related to a genetic disorder such as cystic fibrosis, the child will require ongoing treatment to improve his or her absorption of nutrients. Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy, which is an oral medication that the child takes with each meal, is very effective.