What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. The main function of the pancreas is to produce the enzymes needed for digestion as well as producing insulin and glucagon, which are the hormones in charge of regulating glucose in your body. There are two types of pancreatitis: acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis.  Acute pancreatitis happens suddenly and it’s usually caused by gallstones or excessive alcohol consumption. Chronic pancreatitis happens when there is a recurrent injury to the pancreas which is usually seen in chronic alcoholics or in diseases such as cystic fibrosis 

What are the symptoms of Pancreatitis?

Acute pancreatitis presents with the following symptoms: 

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Upper Abdominal pain worse after eating  and that radiates to your back 

Where is chronic Pancreatitis presented?

  • upper abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • smelly stools (steatorrhea) 

What are the complications of Pancreatitis?

  • Pseudocyst: fluid and debris accumulate in the pancreas. This can rupture and cause a peritoneal infection or internal bleeding
  • Kidney failure: since the release of amylase from the injured pancreas can cause renal impairment 
  • Pancreatic cancer: due to the long-term inflammation and constant scaring, pancreatitis patients are prone to developing cancer. 

How is Pancreatitis diagnosed?

To diagnose pancreatitis a physical exam and history should be performed. A series of blood tests such as amylase and lipase can indicate if there is something wrong with your pancreas. A high glucose level can also help in the diagnosis since your pancreas might not be producing the hormones in charge of regulating it. A stool test can also be performed to look if there is excess fat in the stool. A CT scan can also aid in diagnosis since it helps detect pancreatic inflammation as well as showing possible gallstones. A test called a Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is also used since it creates a picture of the pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts looking for causes of pancreatitis. 

What are the differential diagnoses of Pancreatitis?

  • Acute cholecystitis
  • Pancreatic pseudocyst
  • Small bowel obstruction
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm    

How is Pancreatitis treated?

Acute pancreatitis usually goes away with rest, hydration, pain medicine, antibiotics, and a low-fat diet. It is usually recommended to not eat or drink much since this releases pancreatic enzymes making the pain and inflammation worse. Chronic pancreatitis can be treated with pain management, pancreatic enzyme supplements to aid the body break down foods and to quit drinking alcohol. 

For more information about this condition please visit this website

Posted in: Uncategorized