What Causes a Dilated Pancreatic Duct?

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According to Cleveland Clinic, a dilated pancreatic duct is a common symptom of pancreatitis, a chronic inflammation of the pancreas. As the condition progresses, the tissues of the pancreas are replaced with scar tissue, which in turn can lead to improper digestion and abdominal pain. While anyone can develop pancreatitis, it tends to be more common in alcoholics and individuals who consume high-fat diets.

A 2002 article in the Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology explains that individuals with dilated pancreatic ducts may be at higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer. It is extremely important for those with the condition to submit to early cancer screenings.

Johns Hopkins University explains that a dilated pancreatic duct may also indicate an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm, also referred to as an IPMN. IPMNs are lesions that develop inside the pancreatic ducts that can progress into pancreatic cancer if left untreated. Additional symptoms of IPMNs include stomach pain, vomiting and queasiness. The condition may also cause jaundice, a symptom in which the skin and eyes turn yellow in color. The yellowing occurs when the pancreatic bile duct is obstructed and unable to properly release toxins. Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms are diagnosed through computerized tomography scans, ultrasounds and magnetic testing procedures.