Acute pancreatitis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation of the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes and hormones, such as insulin. The condition occurs when the digestive enzymes become activated within the pancreas instead of the small intestine, leading to inflammation and damage to the pancreatic tissue.
The most common cause of acute pancreatitis is gallstones blocking the pancreatic duct, leading to the activation of the digestive enzymes. Alcohol consumption, high levels of triglycerides in the blood, infections, trauma, medications, and certain medical procedures can also cause acute pancreatitis.
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, rapid heartbeat, and tender abdomen. In severe cases, complications such as pancreatic pseudocysts, pancreatic necrosis, sepsis, and multi-organ failure can occur.
Diagnosis of acute pancreatitis involves a physical exam, blood tests, and imaging studies such as a CT scan or ultrasound. Treatment typically involves hospitalization, fasting to rest the pancreas, pain management, and intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. Depending on the underlying cause, additional treatments may include removal of gallstones, antibiotics, and in severe cases, surgery.
Prevention of acute pancreatitis involves maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and treating underlying medical conditions such as high triglyceride levels or gallstones.