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What is Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis has 2 forms: acute and chronic. Acute pancreatitis last for a short while and usually resolves when the pancreas recovers to its normal state. 

Chronic pancreatitis occurs from repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis and the injury to pancreas continues which scars the pancreas. This makes it unable to recover to its normal state.
Causes of the condition

​Pancreatitis occurs when digestive enzymes becomes active in the pancreas and start to “digest” the pancreas. Alcoholism and gallstones are the two most common causes of pancreatitis.

There are also several other causes:

  • Abdominal surgery
  • Certain medications
  • Smoking
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) when used to treat gallstones
  • Family history of pancreatitis
  • High calcium levels in blood (hypercalcaemia)
  • High levels of parathyroid hormone in the blood (hyperparathyroidism)
  • High triglyceride levels in the bloods (hypertriglyceridaemia)
  • Infection
  • Injury to the abdomen
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Ulcer
Signs & symptoms

​Acute pancreatitis

  •  Upper abdominal pain
  •  Abdominal pain that radiates to the back
  •  Abdominal pain that feels worse after eating
  •  Abdominal pain that is somewhat relieved by leaning forward or curling into a ball
  •  Nausea
  •  Vomiting
  • Tenderness when touching the abdomen

Chronic pancreatitis

  •  Upper abdominal pain
  •  Indigestion
  •  Unexplained weight loss
  •  Oily, smelly stools (steatorrhoea)
Diagnosis and treatment options

​Test and diagnosis

  • Blood test
  • Stool test
  • Computerised tomography (CT) scan
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


Treatment for various underlying causes include: procedures to remove bile duct obstructions, gallbladder surgery, pancreas surgery and treatment for alcohol dependence. Patients may need to fast if they undergo any imaging or interventional procedures.

Hospitalisation is usually required; pain medications and intravenous (IV) fluids may be prescribed. 

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