Have you ever experienced a sudden sharp and severe abdominal pain radiating to the back? The reason for your pain can be an irritated and inflamed pancreas.
The pancreas is a flat gland that dwells in the upper abdomen behind the stomach. Its primary function is to produce enzymes that support digestion and hormones that regulate blood sugar.
However, you may have a pancreas issue due to age and health issues.
An ultrasound of the pancreas usually helps the doctor diagnose various pancreatic disorders. But, what does your ultrasound say about your pancreas? What does an echogenic pancreas ultrasound mean?
Read the rest to acquire more about the echogenic pancreas.
Pancreas and Its Function
The pancreas is a flat-pear-shaped organ in your upper abdomen behind the stomach. This six to ten-inch gland plays a crucial role in converting food into fuel for your body’s cells.
The small intestine, liver, and spleen surround the spongy pancreas. Your pancreas produces enzymes and hormones that serve several functions to your body – regulating blood sugar, pancreatic secretions, etc.
The pancreas usually performs two primary functions – An exocrine function and an endocrine function.
The pancreas consists of exocrine glands that produce enzymes, supporting the functions of digestion. The tasks of exocrine glands include-
- Help to produce the digestive juice bile.
- Digesting proteins by the enzymes trypsin and chymotrypsin
- Digesting carbohydrates by amylase enzymes
- Breaking down fats by the enzyme lipase
The pancreas contains an endocrine component that includes islet cells. These cells create and produce hormones in your bloodstream that maintain proper blood sugar levels. The functions of the hormone include-
- The hormone insulin helps to lower your blood sugar
- The hormone glucagon helps raise your blood sugar
When Do You Need Pancreas Ultrasound?
Ultrasound of the pancreas is the safest and most effective way of finding any irregularities of your pancreas. Due to age or different medical conditions, you may suffer from several pancreas issues – pancreatitis, elevated pancreatic enzymes, unspecified mass around the pancreas, etc.
If you have problems with your pancreas, you will notice several signs. It’s wise not to ignore these symptoms and seek immediate medical attention.
Doctors usually suggest pancreas ultrasound evaluating several symptoms that include-
- Upper abdominal pain
- Abdominal pain radiating toward your back.
- Episodes of pancreatitis
- The feeling of tenderness in your abdomen
- Pale and greasy stool
- Elevated lipase
- Weight loss
- Rapid pulse
What Does an Ultrasound Of Pancreas Show?
An ultrasound of the abdomen, especially for the pancreas, collects the image of your entire pancreas – head, neck, body, and tail of your pancreas. It also shows the surrounding area and your liver.
Pancreas ultrasound usually assesses pancreatic malignancy, pancreatitis, and other pancreatic conditions.
If your report reveals your “pancreas grossly unremarkable” or “the visualized pancreas is unremarkable,” it means there is no evident abnormality in your pancreas. However, you may need a different imaging study to assess your pancreas.
The normal pancreas is usually homogeneous and isoechoic or hyperechoic. In severe and acute pancreas problems, especially pancreatitis, the pancreas appears enlarged, echogenic, heterogeneous, and hypoechoic.
The pancreas ultrasound also assesses the presence of a tumor, its size, and the presence of cancer.
What Does An Echogenic Pancreas Ultrasound Mean?
Echogenicity in an ultrasound examination means the capacity of bouncing an echo, returning the signal. Echogenicity increases when the surface reflecting the echo throws back accumulative sound waves.
In an ultrasound examination, lighter colors represent tissues that have higher echogenicity, aka hyperechogenic. On the other hand, darker colors represent tissues with lower echogenicity, aka hypoechogenic.
In young people, the pancreas is usually hypoechoic. It means less fatty pancreas and liver.
On the other hand, a high echogenic pancreas ultrasound can indicate chronic pancreatitis. The study also suggested that body weight, obesity, and fatty infiltration significantly impact echogenic pancreas ultrasound.
Another research suggested that the aging procedure of your pancreas can also cause increased echogenicity. When you age, a high echogenicity is a perfectly normal result for an aged pancreas in an ultrasound examination.
In addition, with advancing age, your pancreatic duct diameter also increases.
However, to properly diagnose your pancreas, you need a place with expert and efficient doctors and technicians, like My Concierge, MD. The healthcare center ensures a safe and efficient procedure with 100% accurate results.
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Echogenic Pancreas Causes
An enlarged and echogenic pancreas is not necessarily dangerous all the time; it may mean nothing. However, it may also indicate an anatomic abnormality.
Other causes of echogenic pancreas include-
- Pancreatitis – a condition when digestive enzymes get active inside your pancreas and damage its tissue
- Acute pancreatitis – a life-threatening condition causing a sudden inflammation in your pancreas, often resulting from gallstones, alcohol, fats, or calcium in the blood, etc.
- Chronic pancreatitis – a life-threatening inflammation-causing permanent damage in the pancreas
- Pancreatic pseudocyst – an expansion of fluid and tissue remnants in the pancreas, often occurring after pancreatitis
- Cystadenoma – a benign tumor
- Abscess – pus-filled cavity by a bacterial infection
- Pancreatic cancer – abnormal cell growth in the pancreas, spreading to other parts of the body
Echogenic Pancreas Treatment
Treatment of an echogenic and enlarged pancreas treatment depends on the condition you are suffering from.
Treatment For Acute Pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis often includes hospitalization as you need intravenous IV fluid, antibiotics, and a medication plan.
Your doctor may also suggest the removal of gallstones or your gallbladder.
Treatment For Chronic Pancreatitis
Chronic pancreatitis may also cause you to stay at the hospital for treatment. You may also need nerve blocks or surgery. Treatment is almost similar to that for acute pancreatitis.
In addition, you may also need pancreatic enzymes to help your digestion.
Treatment For Pancreatic Cancer
The treatment for pancreatic cancer usually includes surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
Treatment For Other Pancreas Disorder
Doctors usually use a specialized technique – therapeutic endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) for various other pancreatic conditions. Conditions that doctors manage with this techniques include-
- Removing pancreatic or bile duct stones
- Placing a stent to keep a pancreatic or bile duct open
- Enlarging a duct opening
- Draining pseudocysts
- Dilating or stretching a narrowed pancreatic or bile duct
Lifestyle Modification To Manage Pancreas Disorders
A healthy lifestyle is always beneficial. In pancreatic disorders, especially after an echogenic pancreas ultrasound finding, doctors usually suggest lifestyle modification. He may advise you to maintain the following-
- A low-fat diet, focusing more on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, etc., and less on fat
- Stop drinking alcohol
- Stop smoking
- More fluid intake as several pancreas disorders cause dehydration
- Pancreas healing meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercise
The pancreas is a crucial gland in your body that converts food into fuel to keep you moving. However, pancreas problems are not pretty common; they can hamper your life drastically.
An echogenic pancreas ultrasound may not mean anything dangerous; however, you must not overlook and ignore the signs, symptoms, and risks that an echogenic pancreas includes.
My Concierge, MD, offers efficient doctors, nurses, and technicians to provide proper treatment, diagnosis, evaluation, and medication plans to manage your pancreas disorders. Starting from physical examination to ultrasound, this healthcare center offers a 100% accurate assessment of your condition with care, dedication, and perfection.