Secretory diarrhea is the most characteristic symptom of a VIPoma
Secretory diarrhea is the most characteristic symptom of a VIPoma, also known as Verner-Morrison syndrome or pancreatic cholera. A VIPoma is a rare neuroendocrine tumor that arises from the pancreatic islet cells and secretes excessive amounts of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). VIP is a hormone that plays a role in regulating various physiological processes in the gastrointestinal tract.
When a VIPoma secretes excess VIP, it leads to a condition known as VIPoma syndrome. The hallmark symptom of VIPoma syndrome is secretory diarrhea. The excessive VIP causes increased secretion of water and electrolytes into the intestine, leading to watery, frequent, and often severe diarrhea. This can result in dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and weight loss.
Apart from secretory diarrhea, other symptoms of VIPoma syndrome may include:
- Flushing: VIP can cause dilation of blood vessels, leading to episodes of flushing and warmth of the skin, especially in the face and upper body.
- Abdominal cramps: Intense abdominal cramps may occur due to increased bowel activity.
- Hypokalemia: The excessive loss of potassium in the diarrhea can lead to low levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia), which can cause weakness, muscle cramps, and abnormal heart rhythms.
- Acidosis: In severe cases, the loss of bicarbonate ions in the diarrhea can lead to metabolic acidosis.
- Weight loss: Chronic and severe diarrhea can result in weight loss and malnutrition.
It is important to promptly diagnose and treat VIPomas and their associated syndrome due to the potential for severe fluid and electrolyte imbalances. Treatment typically involves surgical removal of the tumor, and sometimes medical management to control symptoms and correct electrolyte imbalances. If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent and severe diarrhea along with other symptoms described above, it’s essential to seek medical attention for proper evaluation and management.