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Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is an inflammatory process involving the pancreas as a result of causes including alcohol, gallstones, drugs, cholesterol disease and may even be due to genetic reasons.  Other causes include trauma and infections.

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic in its nature and classification.

Patients commonly present with abdominal pain just bellow the sternum, nausea, vomiting and fever.  Cases can become very complicated in acute disease and may need ICU care.  Acute disease may be complicated by prolonged disease of the pancreas including fluid cysts(pseudocysts) which may require drainage by a endoscopic ultrasound procedure EUS, performed by a gastroenterologist.  Other complications are also possible.

Chronic Pancreatitis can be a result of repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis, which in fact may be silent and undetected and presents with symptoms of pancreatic dysfunction like diabetes and fat malabsorption with diarrhoea and severe pain as the pancreas atrophies.

The diagnosis of pancreatitis is established using ultrasound, CT scan and blood tests and clinical factors, depending on which type is present.

Treatment also depends on the type, acute pancreatitis is treated with the aim to limit the disease progression and prevent complications and multiple organ dysfunction that may occur, whilst chronic pancreatitis treatment focuses on treatment of the diabetes, fat malabsorption and pain.

EUS and ERCP procedure play a role in management of chronic pancreatitis for pain management and drainage of cysts than can develop as a complication.  These procedures are performed by gastroenterologist.