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Acta Gastroenterol Latinoam. 2000;30(2):107-13.

[Is there pancreatic regeneration? Morphological and functional certification after a corporocaudal splenopancreatectomy/].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Cirugía, Hospital de Clínicas José de San Martín, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires.



The process of pancreatic regeneration, well known and accepted, is less known than the hepatic and includes different mechanisms and factors. Pancreatic regeneration is better known in acute pancreatitis. After an extensive pancreatic necrosis, the morphological and functional regeneration is assessed by dynamic computed tomography associated with normalization of glycemia and the exocrine function. Different groups identified and evaluated experimentally and clinically the actions of multiple factors involved in the process of pancreatic regeneration. Even difficult to assess, pancreatic regeneration after partial pancreatectomy is well documented and of capital importance.


A 57-year-old woman with discomfort in the upper-left abdominal quadrant. CT scans showed a tumor in the body and tail of the pancreas adherent to the spleen. Preoperative CA 19-9 was normal. She was operated on and the tumor resected en bloc with the spleen. Only the head of the pancreas was preserved. Intraoperative pathological examination of the specimen showed a mucinous cistoadenoma with no malignant degeneration. Postoperative course was uneventful and discharged at p.o. day 10, with ongoing diabetes. Four month later she presented pain in the upper-left quadrant with hyperamylasemia. CT scans showed a normal body and tail with an image of pseudocyst at the top of the pancreatic tail. One year after the initial surgery she remained asymptomatic, without diabetes and with no dietary restrictions. Further CT controls showed images of the entire regeneration of the body and tail of the pancreas.


Several phenomena are well known and accepted to be associated with the regeneration of the pancreas. In 1965, Tiscornia et al demonstrated the restoration of the pancreatic exocrine function after 6 weeks of selective occlusion of the pancreatic duct. The authors proposed pancreatic regeneration as responsible of morphological, histological and functional changes observed in operated patients where the pancreatic duct was decompressed by an anastomosis to the small bowel and constitutes the rational basis for surgical treatment of chronic pancreatitis. Several humoral factors seems to be involved in pancreatic regeneration acting by a specific receptors-mechanisms, like Bombesin, Octeotride, FGF (Fibroblast Growth Factor) and TGF (Transforming Growth Factor). Friess et al demonstrated increased levels of TGF in acute pancreatitis and considered it to be responsible of the pancreatic regeneration. Waguri et al experimentally demonstrated a double mechanism involved in the regeneration of B-cells: cellular and humoral ways could vary according to different situations. Less evident are the mechanisms involved after surgical pancreatic resection. Kato et al demonstrated the importance of zinc after partial pancreatic resection in dogs. Up to now, there are no other associations experimentally nor in humans. Our case showed in several CT scans control the presence of a normal pancreatic body and tails after a splenopancreatectomy, with restoration of endocrine and exocrine functions. Probably, several mechanisms were involved in this case. Further investigations will elucidate the answered.


Pancreatic regeneration was confirmed by CT scans images and also functionally after an extensive resection. Future similar findings could be of great clinical importance.

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