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Pancreas. 1999 Jul;19(1):21-5.

Microcirculation in chronic alcoholic pancreatitis: a laser Doppler flow study.

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Department of Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, University of Bern, Inselspital, Switzerland.


Experimental chronic pancreatitis is associated with microcirculatory disturbances but can also be induced or aggravated by perfusion changes. Microcirculatory alterations in human chronic pancreatitis are poorly defined. In this clinical study we investigated pancreatic microcirculation in the normal human pancreas and in chronic pancreatitis by laser Doppler flowmetry. Laparotomy was performed on 13 patients with nonpancreatic disease and on nine patients with chronic alcoholic pancreatitis for pancreatic head resection. Blood flow was measured over the pancreatic head, the uncinate process, over the mesenteric vein, the pancreatic corpus, and over the pancreatic tail by laser Doppler flowmetry. Blood flow was highest in the head of a normal pancreas with a mean of 436 +/- 34 perfusion units (PU), 399 +/- 43 PU in the uncinate process, 286 +/- 30 PU in the pancreatic corpus, and 351 +/- 46 PU in the tail of the pancreas. In the normal pancreas, lowest blood flow was measured over the mesenteric vein (228 +/- 23 PU). In chronic pancreatitis, blood flow in the pancreas was significantly decreased across the whole pancreas (p < 0.01). Furthermore flow-wave pattern was altered in chronic pancreatitis as compared with the normal pancreas. The normal human pancreas has a spatial variation in blood flow, correlating with the pancreatic arterial blood supply. In the chronically inflamed human pancreas, blood flow is significantly diminished, with a lower flow toward the pancreatic head.

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