Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that worsens over time. The pancreas is an organ that sits behind the stomach. It makes fluids that help to break down food in the small intestine.
There is often no known cause. In some people, it may be due to:
This problem is more common in men and people who are Black. Other things that may raise the risk are:
The main problem is mild to severe pain in the upper belly. It may also spread to the back. Pain may be all the time or it may come and go.
Other problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests will be done to look for certain enzymes that point to chronic pancreatitis.
Images may be taken of the abdomen. This can be done with:
A pancreatic function test may be done. This test measures how well the pancreas is making a hormone needed to digest food.
The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery. The type of surgery done depends on the reason for the pancreatitis. Some choices are:
The risk of this problem may be lowered by:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Pancreas Foundation
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Chronic pancreatitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116518/Chronic-pancreatitis. Updated February 20, 2017. Accessed December 21, 2017.
Chronic pancreatitis. Tulane University School of Medicine website. Available at: https://medicine.tulane.edu/find-doctor/surgical-care/liver-pancreas-center/liver-pancreas-conditions-symptoms/chronic. 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.
Rasmussen HH, Irtun O, Olesen SS, Drewes AM, Holst M. Nutrition in chronic pancreatitis. World J Gastroenterol. 2013;19(42):7267-7275.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD Last Updated: 2/11/2021