Staff Reporter

Alcohol-related disorders of liver and pancreas

PUDUCHERRY: The incidence of alcohol-related gastroenterological disorders was high in Puducherry. More than 60 to 70 per cent of in-patients at the Department of Gastroenterology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) suffered from alcohol-related gastroenterological disorders, predominantly of the liver and also the pancreas.

“The incidence of alcohol-related gastroenterological disorders is higher than the normal incidence in the community in Puducherry. This is particularly due to the free availability and subsidised cost of alcohol,” Thomas Alexander, Senior Consultant of the department told reporters on Wednesday.

The department, which was established in May, 2009, has received about 1,500 out-patients, 175 in-patients and has carried out 500 endoscopy procedures in the last few months, he pointed out.

“The spectrum of diseases in this super speciality occurred in the food pipe, stomach, intestine, liver and pancreas. The symptoms included abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, swelling of abdomen and swallowing of foreign bodies,” Dr. Alexander noted. The most common disorder caused by alcohol was cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol's ill-effects on the pancreas included loss of function of the pancreas, development of diabetes, stones within the pancreas and severe pain, he observed.

He stressed the need for a “multi-pronged strategy” to put forward the ill-effects of alcohol to the public.

With Puducherry accounting for high incidence of peptic ulcer, he said over-the-counter medicines including painkillers could produce ulcer and bleeding.

Other causes for gastrointestinal disorders included infections, hepatitis B and C viruses. Cancers of the food pipe, rectum, liver and pancreas were prevalent, he said. Emphasis will be laid on prevention of hepatitis B as cheap vaccination was available, he noted.

The cost of upper gastrointestinal tract endoscopy was Rs. 800, he said. In future, the institute plans to bring in DM in Gastroenterology programme, nurse training and endoscope technician training. In the long run, the department will take steps to start liver transplantation programme, which required proper facilities. “In two to three years, we could initiate the transplant programme. We could get on to it in four to five years,” George Kurian, Head of the department said.

Various equipment have been installed at the department.

Director-Principal of PIMS James Gnanadoss and Treasurer of Madras Medical Mission Abraham Samuel were present.