Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is a condition in which the pancreas is unable to produce and/or secrete adequate amounts of digestive enzymes into the gastrointestinal tract. This leads to a reduced ability to digest foods and absorb some nutrients.

Signs and symptoms associated with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency include abdominal pain, abdominal tenderness, intestinal gas, bloating, diarrhea, foul-smelling stools, and weight loss. Symptoms can vary according to the underlying disease that causes EPI. EPI is not the same as diabetes, which affects the endocrine (hormonal) part of the pancreas, but the two conditions can occur together.

Causes of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)

EPI has many different causes. Both diseases related to the pancreas (like cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, or blockage of the pancreatic duct) and other, non-pancreatic diseases, including celiac disease and Crohn's disease can cause exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Other exocrine pancreatic insufficiency symptoms


Pancreatitis is inflammation of an organ in the abdomen called the pancreas. See Answer

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.