Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. This inflammation is a result of digestive enzymes, produced in the pancreas, activating before they are released into the small intestine and attacking the pancreas. It may be caused by gallstones, heavy alcohol use, medications, infections, trauma, metabolic disorders, or surgery.
Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic.
Acute pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that occurs suddenly and usually resolves in a few days with treatment. Common symptoms of acute pancreatitis include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and a rapid pulse.
Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that does not heal or improve—it gets worse over time and may lead to permanent damage. Common symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea, and oily stools.
Diagnosing acute and chronic pancreatitis is often difficult because of the deep location of the pancreas. If a physical or blood test is not sufficient, Dr. Bhatti may order one or more of the following tests:
Unless complications arise, acute pancreatitis usually resolves in a few days, though it often requires a stay in a hospital for IV fluids, antibiotics, and pain managment medication. If Dr. Bhatti suspects narrowing of the pancreatic duct or bile ducts, he may perform an ERCP to insert a stent.
Treatment for chronic pancreatitis may require hospitalization for several weeks to provide pain management, IV hydration, and nutritional support. People with chronic pancreatitis will also need to consume a low-fat, nutritious diet. Dr. Bhatti will likely recommend enzyme supplements. If Dr. Bhatti suspects narrowing of the pancreatic duct or bile ducts, he may perform an ERCP to insert a stent. Depending on the extent of damage caused by inflammation, surgery may be necessary to remove part of the pancreas.
Schedule an appointment at Bhatti GI if you are persistently experiencing any of the pancreatitis symptoms listed above. We have clinics in Chaska and Edina but treat patients throughout Minnesota.