|CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368|
by Mary Calvagna, MS
The pancreas is a long, flat, pear-shaped organ that sits behind the stomach. It makes enzymes that help to break down food for use by the body. The enzymes pass from the pancreas through a duct to the small intestine.
Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. This type occurs suddenly.
Pancreatitis may be caused by many conditions such as:
The inflammation can turn on the enzymes in the pancreas. The enzymes then begin to damage the inside of the pancreas.
Risk Factors TOP
Any of the following may increase the risk of acute pancreatitis:
Symptoms may include:
Untreated acute pancreatitis may progress into chronic pancreatitis. This is a more serious condition that can lead to permanent damage of the pancreas.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may ask about your alcohol use. You will also be asked about any medicine you take.
Blood tests will help to make the diagnosis. Certain enzymes will be much higher in the blood with acute pancreatitis.
The doctor may also need to take images of the pancreas. The images can show changes to the pancreas. Some causes like gallstones, or duct blockages may also be seen. Images may be taken with:
The doctor will use information from all of the tests to make a diagnosis.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the attack and what is causing it. For example, if medicine is the cause, your doctor may just change the medicine or the dose.
Acute pancreatitis will often pass in a few days with proper care. Most will have no lasting damage. Treatment includes:
Medical care will let your pancreas rest. It can also help to manage symptoms. Some concerns include:
Most will only need to be in the hospital for a few days.
Surgery may be needed if you do not respond to rest. It may also be needed to treat the cause.
Surgical options depend on the cause of pancreatitis, but may include:
Pancreatitis may happen again. To help reduce your chances of acute pancreatitis:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Pancreas Foundation
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Acute pancreatitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T127664/Acute-pancreatitis. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed December 21, 2017.
Acute pancreatitis. Tulane University School of Medicine website. Available at: https://medicine.tulane.edu/find-doctor/surgical-care/liver-pancreas-center/liver-pancreas-conditions-symptoms/acute. Accessed December 21, 2017.
Causes of acute pancreatitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated May 26, 2016. Accessed December 21, 2017.
Pancreatitis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/pancreatitis/all-content. Accessed December 21, 2017.
Prevention of acute pancreatitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated November 28, 2016. Accessed December 21, 2017.
4/7/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T127664/Acute-pancreatitis: Baker ME, Nelson RC, et al. ACR Appropriateness Criteria for acute pancreatitis. Available at: https://acsearch.acr.org/docs/69468/Narrative. Updated 2013.
8/28/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T127664/Acute-pancreatitis: Johnson CD, Besselink MG, Carter R. Acute pancreatitis. BMJ. 2014;349:g4859.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 3/7/2017
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.