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"What is fatty infiltration of the pancreas?"


I recently had an ultrasound of my pancrease to try to determine the cause of some mystery symptoms I've been having. The doctor found a 'fatty infiltration of the pancreas'. Can you describe to be what kind of problem this is and what it will do to me?


Fatty infiltration of the pancreas is a rare condition that can be found on ultrasound or with other imaging techniques. In and off it self, fatty infiltration of the pancreas is a benign condition; it simply means that fat tissue has been laid down inside the pancreas. This fat tissue does not inhibit the other pancreatic tissue, and it does not in and of itself predispose to cancer or other serious complications.

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Although most cases of fatty infiltration of the pancreas are probably just normal variants, they may be more prevalent in obesity, where fat gets laid down in all of the internal organs. Again, in this setting it is the obesity that is the overall health risk and not the fat in the pancreas per se. Sometimes, fatty pancreas is associated with chronic conditions that damage the pancreas. This is because, as the normal pancreas tissue dies off, it is replaced by fat. Chronic pancreatitis, which is usually related to alcoholism, is a common cause of this; certain medications and gall stones can also cause chronic pancreatitis. Cystic fibrosis is another condition which damages the pancreas, leading to fat accumulation. The best first step is to identify with your primary care doctor if there is an underlying condition that has damaged the pancreas. If not, then the fat in the pancreas is of no concern.

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