The pancreas is an organ that makes enzymes that aid with digestion and regulates the body’s blood sugar through the release of insulin.
Acute pancreatitis is sudden inflammation of the pancreas. Rarely, recurrent episodes of acute pancreatitis can lead to chronic pancreatitis, which is associated with permanent damage to the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis can be caused by gallstones, certain medications, trauma, genetic traits, or infections. Often, the cause of acute pancreatitis is unknown.
Pancreatitis episodes are typically very painful, localized to the mid/upper abdomen, and sometimes radiates to the back. Eating usually makes the pain worse.
Bloodwork typically reveals a markedly elevated lipase level. Abdominal imaging such as ultrasound or MRI can reveal characteristic changes to aid diagnosis.
Acute pancreatitis will often resolve after several days with good supportive measures such as IV hydration, pain control, and removing the source when possible.