What is Vipoma?

Vipoma is an acronym which stands for vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), which is otherwise known as Verner Morrison syndrome. Other experts would call it pancreatic cholera. One clinical feature is heavy diarrhea.

It is actually a rare tumor of the endocrine system which originates in the pancreas, where vasoactive intestinal peptide is produced. It is a syndrome that is brought about by a non beta islet cell tumor and is associated with the disease called type 1 multiple endocrine neoplasia.

A CT Scan Showing Tumor on the Pancreas - vipoma

A CT Scan Showing Tumor on the Pancreas – vipoma


Persons with vipoma will experience the following symptoms and signs:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Facial redness
  • Diarrhea
  • Losing of weight
  • Dehydration
  • Hypokalemia or low potassium level
  • Achlorhydria or low acid stomach
  • Appetite is reduced
  • Lethargy
  • Muscular weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate)
  • Hepatomegaly (enlarged liver)
  • Renal failure in the long term
  • Fatigue

The main symptom is diarrhea, even when the person is not eating or fasting, occurring intermittently for a year or more.


When it comes to diagnosing vipoma, usually the health care personnel will ask the patient to fast for a couple of days then take the test for confirmation. Persons who fast and still experience diarrhea will test positive for vipoma. Other diagnostic confirmatory tests include:

  • MRI scan of the person’s abdomen
  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Blood chemistry exam
  • Stool examination
  • Level of VIP or vasoactive intestinal peptide in the blood
  • Octreotide scan which will view the areas where the tumor have spread


The treatment approached in persons with vipoma uses a palliative approach, which is meant to reduce suffering. The goal for treatment is to end dehydration and to slow the incidence of diarrhea episodes.

This treatment approach includes:

  • Replacement therapy includes giving of fluids via the intravenous site, which means fluids go directly into the veins
  • Pharmacological therapy uses substances such as octreotide, a natural hormone. Somatostatin will block the action of the VIP hormone. In addition, chemotherapy drugs may also be given.
  • Surgical therapy aims to remove the neoplasm (the tumor) so that it will not spread to nearby organs. This is often the best cure for this kind of disease.


The prognosis depends on the status of the disease. It is curable through surgery. If for instance, it has not spread, then the prognosis is good. However, if the tumor has already metastasized prior to the diagnosis, the prognosis is bad and the disease can’t be cured.

Vipoma versus Carcinoid

The difference between carcinoid and vipoma is that carcinoid affects the gastrointestinal tract (the stomach and intestine) while the vipoma affects the pancreas. Carcinoid occurs when there is an overproduction of serotonin and other hormones.

Meanwhile, vipoma is a condition that deals with the production of vasoactive intestinal peptide. In addition, it is a slow growing neuroendocrine cancer that originates in the neuroendocrine cellular system. This means that it only affects hormone-releasing cells that receive neural input.

It is often found n the midgut of the ileum (the final section of the small intestine) and affects the respiratory tract. The Carcinoid and vipoma share a common symptom, diarrhea, and similar treatment through surgical procedures.

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