Management of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency: Australasian Pancreatic Club recommendations

Med J Aust. 2010 Oct 18;193(8):461-7. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb04000.x.


Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI) occurs when the amounts of enzymes secreted into the duodenum in response to a meal are insufficient to maintain normal digestive processes. The main clinical consequence of PEI is fat maldigestion and malabsorption, resulting in steatorrhoea. Pancreatic exocrine function is commonly assessed by conducting a 3-day faecal fat test and by measuring levels of faecal elastase-1 and serum trypsinogen. Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy is the mainstay of treatment for PEI. In adults, the initial recommended dose of pancreatic enzymes is 25,000 units of lipase per meal, titrating up to a maximum of 80,000 units of lipase per meal. In infants and children, the initial recommended dose of pancreatic enzymes is 500 units of lipase per gram of dietary fat; the maximum daily dose should not exceed 10,000 units of lipase per kilogram of bodyweight. Oral pancreatic enzymes should be taken with meals to ensure adequate mixing with the chyme. Adjunct therapy with acid-suppressing agents may be useful in patients who continue to experience symptoms of PEI despite high-dose enzyme therapy. A dietitian experienced in treating PEI should be involved in patient management. Dietary fat restriction is not recommended for patients with PEI. Patients with PEI should be encouraged to consume small, frequent meals and to abstain from alcohol. Medium-chain triglycerides do not provide any clear nutritional advantage over long-chain triglycerides, but can be trialled in patients who fail to gain or to maintain adequate bodyweight in order to increase energy intake.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet Therapy
  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / complications
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / diagnosis
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Young Adult