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DefinitionAcute pancreatitis is an inflammation (irritation and swelling with presence of extra immune cells) of the pancreas. The pancreas is an elongated, tapered gland, located behind the stomach, that secretes digestive enzymes and the hormones insulin and glucagon .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The chief causes of acute pancreatitis in adults are gallstones , other gallbladder (biliary) disease, and alcohol use . Viral infection ( mumps , coxsackie B, mycoplasma pneumonia , and campylobacter), traumatic injury, pancreatic or common bile duct surgical procedures and certain medications (especially estrogens, corticosteroids, thiazide diuretics, and azathioprine) are other causes.
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:
Signs and tests
General examination may show low blood pressure and a heart rate above 90 (slightly rapid).
Test that show inflammation of the pancreas:
In other blood tests results:
This disease may also alter the results of the following tests:
Treatment is aimed at supportive measures such as fluid replacement by intravenous (IV) infusion, pain relief by analgesics , and withholding food or fluid by mouth to restrict pancreatic activity that makes symptoms worse. Occasionally nasogastric suctioning may be required if there is persistent vomiting or severe pain or if a paralytic ileus develops.
In most cases, the symptoms resolve in a week; however, in some cases, life-threatening illness develops. The death rate is high with hemorrhagic pancreatitis or necrotizing pancreatitis and complications such as liver, heart, or kidney impairment may occur. Recurrences are common.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if intense, constant abdominal pain is present, or if other symptoms suggestive of acute pancreatitis develop.
Prevention of acute pancreatitis is associated with prevention of the causative disorders.
Update Date: 4/25/2002Andrew J. Muir, M.D. M.H.S., Division of Gastroenterology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT