CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Chronic Pancreatitis

Definition

The pancreas is a long, flat, pear-shaped organ located behind the stomach. It makes digestive enzymes and hormones, including insulin. Chronic pancreatitis is a progressive inflammation of the pancreas marked by frequent acute attacks and risk of permanent organ damage.

Pancreatitis

Nuclus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

Chronic pancreatitis may result from injury, chronic infection, drug or toxic exposure, autoimmune disease, or blockage of the pancreas. In some cases it is genetic and sometimes has no known cause.

Risk Factors    TOP

Chronic pancreatitis is more common in men. Other factors that may increase your risk of chronic pancreatitis include:

Personal health history, such as:

Conditions that obstruct the passageway from the pancreas to the small intestine include:

  • Trauma
  • Tumors
  • Pseudocysts—build up of fluids and debris

Chronic pancreatitis is a risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer.

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms may be mild, but progressive. Chronic pancreatitis may cause:

  • Abdominal pain that may get worse when eating or drinking, spreads to the back, or becomes constant and disabling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • DiarrheaWhite stools
  • Symptoms of diabetes,
  • Jaundice

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis is difficult. Symptoms are not specific early on in the course of the disease.

Your bodily fluids and waste products may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool tests

Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

Treatment    TOP

The goals of treatment for chronic pancreatitis are to relieve pain, and manage nutritional and metabolic problems.

Treatment may be started in a hospital until you are stabilized. Stabilization can be done with:

  • IV fluids
  • Nasogastric tube—A long, thin tube is threaded through your nose and into your stomach for feeding

Medications

Your doctor may recommend:

  • Prescription pain relievers
  • Pancreatic enzymes
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Medications to control diabetes if it develops

Lifestyle Changes

You will be advised to stop drinking alcohol. This may require counseling or a rehabilitation program. Stopping your alcohol intake is the most important intervention in your treatment.

If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit.

You may be advised to restrict the amount of fat in your diet. Pancreatic damage interferes with the body's ability to process fats. A registered dietitian can work with you and create a healthy meal plan.

Surgery    TOP

Surgery may be needed in severe cases:

  • Necrosectomy—Removal of dying or dead (necrotic) pancreatic tissue. Pancreatic necrosis is more serious if an infection is present. This procedure can also be done with endoscopy.
  • ECRP—To open any collapsed ducts or drain cysts.
  • Cholecystectomy—To remove the gallbladder.

Prevention    TOP

Aside from avoiding too much alcohol, there are no current guidelines to prevent chronic pancreatitis.

RESOURCES:

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
http://www.niddk.nih.gov
National Pancreas Foundation
http://www.pancreasfoundation.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
http://www.cag-acg.org

References:

Chronic pancreatitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated May 12, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Chronic pancreatitis. Tulane University School of Medicine website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed November 12, 2015.
Grant JP. Nutritional support in acute and chronic pancreatitis. Surg Clin North Am. 2011;91(4):805-820, viii.
Pancreatitis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 16, 2012. Accessed November 12, 2015.
Singh VV, Toskes PP. Medical therapy for chronic pancreatitis pain. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2003; 5:110.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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 healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000