The pancreas is a glandular organ located behind the stomach. It secretes enzymes needed by the body to digest foods. It also produces hormones that regulate the blood sugar levels. Injury to this organ can lead to the blockage of the ducts that carry enzyme juices, which in turn causes the sac to be filled with fluid. This condition is called pancreatic pseudocyst. Pseudo is a Greek word for false, and the reason this condition is called such is because it’s not a true cyst as it doesn’t comprise of lining of cells that are found in an actual cyst.
Pancreatitis or the inflammation of the pancreas is the most common cause of pancreatic pseudocyst. The pancreas becomes inflamed due to gallstones or excessive consumption of alcohol. Another cause, which is less common, is trauma such as when the abdomen gets hit. There’s also another type of pseudocyst that develops in the lymphatic system, particularly on the spleen but it’s only a very rare occurrence. The spleen is the largest organ of the lymphatic system that regulates the fluids of the body and fights infection. Pseudocyst in the spleen is often caused by trauma.
Signs and symptoms of pseudocysts differ from one person to another. But generally, people would experience abdominal pain and bloating along with other symptoms like loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, tender mass in the abdominal area, jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin, and buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity. It’s important to go to the doctor when you experience any of these symptoms.
This condition is often diagnosed using a CT scan. This refers to an imaging procedure that utilizes computer technology and X-ray to form cross-sectional images of the body. It provides a more detailed view of the body’s interior compared to the usual X-ray. If there is a fluid-filled mass that had formed around the pancreas, it can be seen through a CT scan.
Other than this, blood tests may be performed to measure the levels of amylase and lipase in the body. When there is a high level of these enzymes, it may indicate that the pancreas is inflamed. X-ray, ultrasound and Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) are other ways to find out if there is problem with the pancreas.
The good news is most pseudocysts can go away without any treatment. If you have one that is still small and doesn’t give pain or make you uncomfortable, the doctor will only monitor it regularly with CT scans. But if it starts to grow and causes pain, surgical procedure will be recommended.
If it is not monitored or treated, infection or rupture may happen. These may lead to excruciating pain, loss of blood and infection in the abdominal area. Treatment options vary according to people’s health and condition. It’s important that you talk to your doctor so you can work out the best possible treatment for you.