Pancreatitis Treated by Doctors at Mercy in Baltimore

The Center for Comprehensive Pancreatic Care at Mercy in Baltimore provides expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic disease, including pancreatitis, pancreatic cysts, and pancreatic cancer.

About Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a pancreatic disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas produces enzymes to aid digestion and hormones to regulate the processing of sugar. Typically enzymes are not activated until they reach the small intestines; however, when enzymes are activated while in the pancreas, the pancreas becomes irritated and prematurely inflamed causing pancreatitis.

There are two types of pancreatitis: acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis.

Acute pancreatitis appears suddenly and can last for days. This sudden inflammation of the pancreas occurs over a short period of time. In the majority of cases, acute pancreatitis is caused by gallstones or heavy alcohol use. Other causes of acute pancreatitis include medications, infections, trauma, metabolic disorders, and surgery.

Repeated acute pancreatitis can damage the pancreas and lead to chronic pancreatitis.

Chronic pancreatitis is the result of ongoing inflammation of the pancreas and most often occurs after an episode of acute pancreatitis. The majority of chronic pancreatitis cases are due to alcohol use.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Acute pancreatitis symptoms include:

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Abdominal pain felt in the back
  • Abdominal pain that gets worse after eating
  • Nausea and vomiting

Chronic pancreatitis symptoms include:

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Indigestion
  • Oily, foul-smelling stools
  • Weight loss without trying

Pancreatitis is diagnosed using various tests including blood tests, stool tests, CT scans, abdominal ultrasound, endoscopic ultrasound, and MRI.

Treatment Options for Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is treated by relieving a patient’s pain and improving nutritional and metabolic problems that result from loss of pancreatic function. Once pancreatitis is under control through fasting, pain medicine, IV fluids, and other treatments, the underlying causes of pancreatitis can be treated through endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), gallbladder surgery, pancreas surgery, pain management, or enzyme supplements.

The Melissa L. Posner Institute for Digestive Health & Liver Disease at Mercy provides diagnosis and treatment for a range of gastroenterology issues including heartburn, liver disease, bowel conditions, motility disorders and pancreatic disease.