BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuChronic pancreatitisChronic pancreatitis - chronic; Pancreatitis - chronic - discharge; Pancreatic insufficiency - chronic; Acute pancreatitis - chronicPancreatitis is swelling of the pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis is present when this problem does not heal or recurs and does not improve, gets worse over time, and leads to permanent damage. Causes The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach. It produces chemicals (called enzymes) needed to digest food. It also produces the hormones insulin and glucagon.When scarring of the pancreas occurs, the organ is no longer able to make the right amount of these enzymes. As a result, your body may be unable to digest fat and key elements of food.Damage to the parts of the pancreas that make insulin may lead to diabetes mellitus.The condition is most often caused by alcohol abuse over many years. Repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis can lead to chronic pancreatitis. Genetics may be a factor in some cases. Sometimes, the cause is not known or caused by gall stones.Alcohol abuseAlcohol use involves drinking beer, wine, or hard liquor.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Other conditions that have been linked to chronic pancreatitis:Problems when the immune system attacks the body Blockage of the tubes (ducts) that drain enzymes from the pancreas Cystic fibrosis Cystic fibrosisCystic fibrosis is a disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body. It is one of th...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article High levels of a fat, called triglycerides, in the blood Overactive parathyroid gland Overactive parathyroid glandHyperparathyroidism is a disorder in which the parathyroid glands in your neck produce too much parathyroid hormone (PTH).ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Use of certain medicines (especially sulfonamides, thiazides, and azathioprine) Pancreatitis that is passed down in families (hereditary)Chronic pancreatitis is more common in men than in women. This often occurs in people ages 30 to 40. Symptoms Symptoms include:ABDOMINAL PAINABDOMINAL PAINAbdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. This is often referred to as the stomach region or belly.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Greatest in the upper abdomen May last from hours to days; over time, may always be present May get worse from eating May get worse from drinking alcohol May also be felt in the back as if it is boring through the abdomenDIGESTIVE PROBLEMS Chronic weight loss, even when eating habits and amounts are normal Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting Foul-smelling fatty or oily stools Pale or orange-colored stoolsPale or orange-colored stoolsStools that are pale, clay, or putty-colored may be due to problems in the biliary system. The biliary system is the drainage system of the gallblad...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Exams and Tests Tests to diagnose pancreatitis include:Fecal fat test Fecal fat testThe fecal fat test measures the amount of fat in the stool. This can help gauge the percentage of dietary fat that the body does not absorb....ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Increased serum amylase level Serum amylaseAmylase is an enzyme that helps digest carbohydrates. It is made in the pancreas and the glands that make saliva. When the pancreas is diseased or ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Increased serum lipase level Serum lipaseLipase is a protein (enzyme) released by the pancreas into the small intestine. It helps the body absorb fat. This test is used to measure the amou...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Serum trypsinogenSerum trypsinogenTrypsinogen is a substance that is normally produced in the pancreas and released into the small intestine. Trypsinogen is converted to trypsin. Th...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Tests that may show the cause of pancreatitis include:Serum IgG4 (for diagnosing autoimmune pancreatitis) Gene testing, most often done when other common causes are not present or there is a family historyImaging tests that can show swelling, scarring, calcifications or other changes of the pancreas may be seen on:CT scan of the abdomen CT scan of the abdomenAn abdominal CT scan is an imaging method. This test uses x-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the belly area. CT stands for computed tomog...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Ultrasound of the abdomen Ultrasound of the abdomenAbdominal ultrasound is a type of imaging test. It is used to look at organs in the abdomen, including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)ERCP is a procedure that looks at your bile and pancreatic ducts. It is done through an endoscope.ERCP Abdominal exploration is surgery to look at the organs and structures in your belly area (abdomen). This includes your:AppendixBladderGallbladderIn...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Treatment People with severe pain or who are losing weight may need to stay in the hospital for:Pain medicines. Fluids given through a vein (IV). Stopping food or fluid by mouth to limit the activity of the pancreas, and then slowly starting an oral diet. Inserting a tube through the nose or mouth to remove the contents of the stomach (nasogastric suctioning) may sometimes be done. The tube may stay in for 1 to 2 days, or sometimes for 1 to 2 weeks. Nasogastric suctioningGastric suction is a procedure to empty the contents of your stomach.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article The right diet is important for people with chronic pancreatitis to keep a healthy weight and get the correct nutrients. A nutritionist can help you create a diet that includes:Drinking plenty of liquids Limiting fats Eating small, frequent meals (this helps reduce digestive symptoms) Getting enough vitamins and calcium in the diet, or as extra supplements Limiting caffeine The health care provider may prescribe pancreatic enzymes. You must take these medicines with every meal, and even with snacks. The enzymes will help you digest food better, gain weight and reduce diarrhea.Avoid smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages, even if your pancreatitis is mild.Other treatments may involve:Pain medicines or a surgical nerve block to relieve pain Taking insulin to control blood sugar (glucose) level Blood sugar (glucose)A blood sugar test measures the amount of a sugar called glucose in a sample of your blood. Glucose is a major source of energy for most cells of the...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Surgery may be performed if a blockage is found. In severe cases, a part of or the entire pancreas may be removed. Outlook (Prognosis) This is a serious disease that may lead to disability and death. You can reduce the risk by avoiding alcohol. Possible Complications Complications may include:Ascites AscitesAscites is the build-up of fluid in the space between the lining of the abdomen and abdominal organs.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Blockage (obstruction) of the small intestine or bile ducts Bile ductsBile duct obstruction is a blockage in the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Blood clot in the vein of the spleen Fluid collections in the pancreas (pancreatic pseudocysts) that may become infected Pancreatic pseudocystsA pancreatic pseudocyst is a fluid-filled sac in the abdomen that arises from the pancreas. It may also contain tissue from the pancreas, enzymes, a...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Diabetes Poor absorption of fat, nutrients, and vitamins (most often the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, or K) Poor absorptionMalabsorption involves problems with the body's ability to take in (absorb) nutrients from food.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Iron deficiency anemia Vitamin B12 deficiency When to Contact a Medical Professional Contact your provider if:You develop symptoms of pancreatitis You have pancreatitis, and your symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment Prevention Finding the cause of acute pancreatitis and treating it quickly may help prevent chronic pancreatitis. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to reduce your risk of developing this condition.Acute pancreatitisAcute pancreatitis is sudden swelling and inflammation of the pancreas.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Open ReferencesReferencesForsmark CE. Chronic pancreatitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 59.Forsmark CE. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 135.Lancaster WP, Adams DB. Management of chronic pancreatitis. In: Cameron AM, Cameron JL, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:541-545.AllVideoImagesTogDigestive system - illustration The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.Digestive systemillustrationPancreatitis, chronic - CT scan - illustration CT scan of the upper abdomen showing multiple white-colored calcifications. These occur in chronic pancreatitis.Pancreatitis, chronic - CT scanillustrationDigestive system - illustration The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.Digestive systemillustrationPancreatitis, chronic - CT scan - illustration CT scan of the upper abdomen showing multiple white-colored calcifications. These occur in chronic pancreatitis.Pancreatitis, chronic - CT scanillustration Tests for Chronic pancreatitis Amylase - bloodRelated Information Glucagon blood test(Medical Test)Alcohol use disorder(Condition)Alcohol use and safe drinking(Special Topic)High blood cholesterol levels(Condition)Hyperparathyroidism(Condition)Diabetes(Condition)Bile duct obstruction(Condition)Malabsorption(Condition)Ascites(Condition)Pancreatitis - discharge(Discharge)Alcohol use disorders(In-Depth)Cholesterol(In-Depth)Diabetes - type 1(In-Depth) Review Date: 10/25/2021 Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. 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