Pancreatic Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide-Producing Tumor as a Rare Cause of Acute Diarrhea and Severe Hypokalemia

Vasilios Giampatzis, Christina Kotsiari, Prodromos Bostantzis, Alexandra Chrisoulidou, Aimilia Fotiadou, Soultana Loti, Stefanos Papantoniou, Persefoni Papadopoulou


Pancreatic vasoactive intestinal peptide-producing tumor (VIPoma) is a rare functional neuroendocrine tumor most commonly presenting with watery diarrhea and electrolyte abnormalities that include hypokalemia, hypercalcemia and metabolic acidosis. This type of tumor has usually insidious clinical behavior that is characterized by chronic secretory diarrhea, lasting usually from months to years before diagnosis, not responsive to usual medical or dietary treatment approaches. Given the resemblance of VIPoma with other more common causes of chronic watery diarrhea, the final diagnosis is often delayed and the tumors are usually large and metastatic at the time of detection. Our case of pancreatic VIPoma demonstrates an unusual clinical course for this type of tumor with acute refractory diarrhea and rapid deterioration of patients clinical and biochemical status that required emergent in-hospital diagnosis and treatment. Our patient is a 45-year-old woman who presented with abrupt, watery diarrhea during the past 24 h before admission accompanied with severe hypokalemia as well as hyponatremia, hyperglycemia and hypercalcemia. Despite aggressive management with fluid administration and electrolyte replenishment, no significant improvement in patients symptoms and electrolyte imbalance was observed. After exclusion of other causes of acute diarrhea from the medical history and the laboratory tests, the clinical suspicion of a functional neuroendocrine tumor was raised. After the establishment of final diagnosis of pancreatic VIPoma with biochemical tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), somatostatin analogues were prescribed and the patient underwent distal pancreatectomy and splenectomy with no signs of lymph node and splenic metastases. Few days after the surgical resection of the tumor, the patient readmitted to our hospital with tarry stools and severe anemia. The abdominal computed tomography (CT) revealed a retroperitoneal cystic lesion. The gastrointestinal bleeding gradually recessed after endoscopic hemostasis of duodenal ulcer lesions whereas the cystic lesion (postoperative lymphocele) was successfully drained under CT-guidance before discharge. After almost 10 years postoperatively, the patient is still asymptomatic with no signs of relapse or metastasis of the disease in the periodic laboratory and imaging follow-up. In conclusion, pancreatic VIPoma can sometimes manifest symptoms of abrupt onset and rapid progression that require high clinical suspicion, appropriate diagnostic workup and aggressive management.

J Med Cases. 2023;14(9-10):307-316


Neuroendocrine tumors; Pancreatic VIPoma; Acute diarrhea; Hypokalemia; Somatostatin analogues; Pancreatectomy

Full Text: HTML PDF

Browse  Journals  


Journal of Clinical Medicine Research

Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism

Journal of Clinical Gynecology and Obstetrics


World Journal of Oncology

Gastroenterology Research

Journal of Hematology


Journal of Medical Cases

Journal of Current Surgery

Clinical Infection and Immunity


Cardiology Research

World Journal of Nephrology and Urology

Cellular and Molecular Medicine Research


Journal of Neurology Research

International Journal of Clinical Pediatrics



Journal of Medical Cases, monthly, ISSN 1923-4155 (print), 1923-4163 (online), published by Elmer Press Inc.                     
The content of this site is intended for health care professionals.
This is an open-access journal distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted
non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Creative Commons Attribution license (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International CC-BY-NC 4.0)

This journal follows the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommendations for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals,
the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines, and the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.

website:   editorial contact:
Address: 9225 Leslie Street, Suite 201, Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4B 3H6, Canada

© Elmer Press Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the published articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editors and Elmer Press Inc. This website is provided for medical research and informational purposes only and does not constitute any medical advice or professional services. The information provided in this journal should not be used for diagnosis and treatment, those seeking medical advice should always consult with a licensed physician.