EPI Insights with Roshini Raj, MD
I’m Dr. Roshini Raj. I’m a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center and I see patients every day with a variety of GI, or gastrointestinal, digestive issues. And I also do some media work where I try to educate the public about medical news and medical issues.
EPI stands for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and this basically means your pancreas is not functioning properly and you’re not able to digest food well, and this means you may experience symptoms such as abdominal bloating, pain, diarrhea, steatorrhea (which is a specific form of diarrhea where the stools are particularly oily or float) and this is a condition that often goes underrecognized because many people don’t like to talk about those symptoms.
I try to make my patients very comfortable from the moment they walk into my office. Try to make it a warm and safe environment. But I also speak about issues like going to the bathroom very matter-of-factly so they know that I’m not at all embarrassed, I don’t feel uncomfortable, and hopefully they won’t either.
EPI is associated with well-known diseases like chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, a pancreatectomy, pancreatic cancer, or diabetes (type I and type IIIC).
It’s not always easy to distinguish between EPI and some other GI conditions but usually taking a very good history and physical exam, doing some tests which may include blood work, stool tests or even some x-ray or imaging tests of the pancreas, will help make that diagnosis.
If I diagnose a patient with EPI, I tell them that the good news is we’ve found out what’s wrong with you and now we’re gonna come up with a plan that’s gonna help you manage your symptoms and feel better.
Helpful videos for your patients
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