Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)

Brief Overview of Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)

Description of Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)

Inflammation of the pancreas. Normally digestive enzymes from the pancreas are only allowed to flow into areas of the digestive tract that are protected by mucus. Inflammation of the pancreas can expose unprotected pancreas tissues to digestive enzymes, so pancreatitis can cause serious damage and scarring of the pancreas, and inflammation can spread. Pancreatitis has many causes with alcohol and gallstones being the most common.
Reviewed by Harvard Medical School

Symptoms of Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)

Abdominal pain, back pain, vomiting, anxiety, chills, clammy skin, fatty stools, fever, jaundice (yellow skin), nausea, sweating, weakness, weight loss.
Reviewed by Harvard Medical School

Tests for Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)


A history and physical exam will be performed. Blood tests look for changes in blood levels of pancreas enzymes (amylase or lipase). An abdominal CT scan and/or ultrasound may be helpful.


Complete blood count (CBC), Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), CT Scan, Electrocardiogram (EKG), Lipase, Ultrasound and X-ray

Additional tests that may be required



Reviewed by Harvard Medical School

Treatment of Pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)

Usually pancreatitis requires a hospital stay. Eating is stopped for several days so the pancreas does not make as much digestive enzyme. A nasogastric tube (tube from the nose to the stomach) can help nausea by allowing removal of stomach juices. Intravenous fluids are almost always needed. Pain medications and nausea medications are helpful. If the problem was caused by a gallstone, surgery to remove the gallbladder can prevent recurrence. For more information contact the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse at or call (800)891-5389
Reviewed by Harvard Medical School