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Pancreatitis


Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which is an organ in the upper abdomen that makes insulin and digestive enzymes. Pancreatitis may cause sudden, severe abdominal (belly) pain.

Pancreatitis is most commonly caused by excessive use of alcohol or by a blockage of the tube (duct) that leads from the pancreas to the beginning of the small intestine (duodenum), usually by a gallstone. Other causes include an infection, an injury, or certain medicines. It may develop suddenly (acute), or it may be a long-term, recurring (chronic) problem.

Treatment in the hospital includes pain medicine and fluids given through a vein (IV) until the inflammation goes away. Nutrition is given through a tube to avoid stimulating the pancreas. Although most people recover fully from pancreatitis, complications such as bleeding, infection, or organ failure may occur.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerPeter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last RevisedMay 25, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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