health care  
All about pancreatitis causes of pancreatitis symptoms of pancreatitis risk factors for pancreatitis complications of pancreatitis acute pancreatitis causes of acute pancreatitis symptoms of acute pancreatitis diagnosis of acute pancreatitis treatment for acute pancreatitis chronic pancreatitis causes of chronic pancreatitis symptoms of chronic pancreatitis diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis treatment for chronic pancreatitis prevention of pancreatitis

What is the treatment for acute pancreatitis?

The goals of treatment of acute pancreatitis are to alleviate pancreatic inflammation and to correct the underlying cause. Treatment usually requires hospitalization for at least a few days. The specific treatment measures used depend upon whether a person has mild or moderate to severe pancreatitis. Treatment for acute pancreatitis depends on the severity of the condition. Sometimes the patient needs hospitalization with administration of intravenous fluids to help restore blood

volume. Antibiotics are often prescribed if infection occurs and pain medications are often used to provide relief. Surgery is sometimes needed when complications such as infection, cysts or bleeding occur).

Mild pancreatitis is typically self-limited, and the symptoms usually resolve with simple supportive care, which entails monitoring, drugs to control the pain, and intravenous fluids. Although doctors typically discourage eating during the first few days, most people with mild pancreatitis are able to gradually resume eating within five to seven days. Moderate to severe pancreatitis requires more extensive monitoring and supportive care. In cases of necrotizing pancreatitis, treatment may also entail antibiotics and surgery.

People with severe acute pancreatitis generally are admitted to an intensive care unit, where vital signs (pulse, blood pressure, and rate of breathing) and urine production can be monitored continuously. Blood samples are repeatedly drawn to monitor various components of the blood, including hematocrit, sugar (glucose) levels, electrolyte levels, white blood cell count, and amylase and lipase levels. A tube may be inserted through the nose and into the stomach to remove fluid and air, particularly if nausea and vomiting persist and gastrointestinal ileus is present.

About 30 percent of people with severe acute pancreatitis will develop an infection of the damaged pancreatic tissue. Antibiotics can prevent this infection and control infections that are already present. Studies have shown that antibiotics reduce the likelihood of infection and death in people with severe necrotizing pancreatitis. This treatment may entail intravenous antibiotics and oral antibiotics. Because these antibiotics increase the risk of fungal infection, treatment may also include antifungal drugs.

Acute pancreatitis is sometimes complicated by extensive damage to the pancreatic tissue and/or infection. In these cases, doctors usually recommend removal of the damaged and/or infected tissue, a procedure referred to as a "necrosectomy." It can be performed by open surgical procedure or at times by less invasive procedures, e.g., endoscopic or radiologic placement of drainage tubes into the area. Whether the procedure should be done surgically or by a non-surgical procedure depends upon the clinical condition of the patient and the expertise available in the hospital.

Most gallstones that cause attacks of acute pancreatitis clear on their own, but some stones cause prolonged blockage that leads to complications. In people with gallstone pancreatitis who also have jaundice (yellowing of the skin) or a gallbladder infection, a procedure called endoscopic papillotomy can be used to quickly relieve the obstruction. In contrast, this procedure is not necessary for people who have already passed their gallstones. Because many patients are very ill, doctors sometimes place a stent (a thin plastic tube) to drain the obstructed bile duct rather than attempting to remove the stone. Placement of a stent is usually faster and safer than endoscopic papillotomy.

Gallstone pancreatitis recurs in 30 to 50 percent of people after an initial attack of pancreatitis. Doctors usually recommend cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gallbladder) to prevent this recurrence. This surgery can now be performed through a tiny incision in the abdominal wall, a procedure called laparoscopic cholecystectomy. During surgery, the ducts joining the gallbladder, pancreas, and small intestine are examined for residual gallstones. If any stones remain after surgery, they can be detected and removed during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

More information on pancreatitis

What is pancreatitis? - Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that may occur as an acute, painful attack. Pancreatitis, an occasional side effect of ddI, can result in severe abdominal pain and death.
What causes pancreatitis? - Heavy alcohol use over many years is a leading cause of chronic pancreatitis. A leading cause of acute pancreatitis is gallstones.
What are the symptoms of pancreatitis? - Pancreatitis symptoms are characterized by severe pain in the middle of the abdomen that occurs secondary to inflammation of the pancreas.
What are the risk factors for pancreatitis? - Gallstones (lumps of solid material found in the gallbladder) and alcohol abuse (in 80 percent of all cases) are major risk fators forpancreatitis.
What are the complications of pancreatitis? - Complications of pancreatitis can be conceptualized as occurring in two domains one as local and one as systemic complications.
What is acute pancreatitis? - Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation (irritation and swelling with presence of extra immune cells) of the pancreas.
What causes acute pancreatitis? - Gallstones and excessive alcohol usage are the most common causes for injury to the pancreas and account for more than 85% of all patients that develop pancreatitis.
What are the symptoms of acute pancreatitis? - Acute pancreatitis generally starts with a pain in the upper abdomen. Other symptoms include diarrhea, bloating and fever.
How is acute pancreatitis diagnosed? - The diagnosis of acute pancreatitis can be challenging because the signs and symptoms of other medical conditions can mimic those of pancreatitis.
What is the treatment for acute pancreatitis? - The goals of treatment of acute pancreatitis are to alleviate pancreatic inflammation and to correct the underlying cause.
What is chronic pancreatitis? - Chronic pancreatitis is a condition associated with widespread scarring and destruction of pancreatic tissue.
What causes chronic pancreatitis? - The most common cause of chronic pancreatitis is long-term excessive alcohol consumption. Other causes include high levels of calcium in the blood, abnormalities in anatomy.
What are the symptoms of chronic pancreatitis? - Some people with chronic pancreatitis have no pain. Patients with this disease often lose weight, even when their appetite and eating habits are normal.
How is chronic pancreatitis diagnosed? - Diagnosing chronic pancreatitis in its early stages is often difficult. Diagnosis may be aided by a number of new techniques.
What is the treatment for chronic pancreatitis? - The doctor treats chronic pancreatitis by relieving pain and managing the nutritional and metabolic problems.
How to prevent pancreatitis? - Pancreatitis caused by gallstones can not be absolutely prevented. A healthy weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise can redce the risk of forming gallstones. 
Digestive health Mainpage

Topics in digestive disorders

Signs and symptoms of digestive diseases
Anal and rectal disorders
Diverticular disease
Inflammatory bowel diseases
Peptic disorders (Stomach disease)
Emergencies of digestive system
Liver diseases
Irritable bowel syndrome
Diagnostic tests for digestive disorders

Featured articles

Crohn's disease
Ulcerative colitis
Peptic ulcer
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C
Liver transplant
Colon cancer
Stomach cancer
Colorectal cancer (bowel cancer)

All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005