Acute pancreatitis most often is caused by gallstones, but other causes
and risk factors may be involved. Acute pancreatitis develops suddenly
and typically causes severe upper abdominal pain. Patients need prompt
evaluation and medical treatment in the hospital. In some cases, acute
pancreatitis can be life threatening, causing shock or coma and
requiring intensive care.
Diagnosis can be challenging and is based on a comprehensive evaluation,
including a detailed history and physical examination, urine and blood
tests, and abdominal imaging studies. To help pinpoint the cause of
acute pancreatitis, our specialists also may perform:
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography to look for
gallstones and problems in the pancreatic and bile ducts, to
examine for sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (malfunction of the
muscle that controls drainage through the pancreatic and bile
ducts), and to collect bile to look for microscopic gallstones
Tests to look for inherited or autoimmune disease
Treatment is tailored to the specific cause of acute pancreatitis,
severity of the condition, and presence of any complications, such as
infection. If a blockage is found, it may be treatable using an
endoscopic procedure. If gallstones are the cause, gallbladder removal
may be part of the treatment.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.