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Home >> Specialities >> Liver Transplant >> Pancreatitis


Pancreatitis is a potentially serious inflammation of the pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach. This condition can range from mild discomfort to a life-threatening illness and requires prompt medical attention. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for pancreatitis.



  • Gallstones: One of the leading causes of acute pancreatitis is gallstones. These small, hardened deposits form in the gallbladder and can obstruct the pancreatic duct, leading to inflammation.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Chronic heavy alcohol consumption is a significant risk factor for pancreatitis. The exact mechanism is not entirely clear, but it is believed to be related to the toxic effects of alcohol on the pancreas.
  • Trauma: Physical trauma to the abdomen, such as a car accident or a severe fall, can injure the pancreas and lead to inflammation.
  • Infections: Viral infections like mumps, as well as bacterial infections, can lead to pancreatitis.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions like lupus or Crohn's disease can lead to inflammation of the pancreas.
  • High Blood Calcium Levels (Hypercalcemia): Elevated levels of calcium in the blood can lead to the formation of calcium deposits in the pancreas, causing inflammation.
  • Certain Medications: Some medications, such as certain antibiotics, can lead to pancreatitis as a side effect.


The symptoms of pancreatitis can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition:
Acute Pancreatitis:

  • Sudden, severe pain in the upper abdomen that may radiate to the back.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Abdominal tenderness and swelling.
  • Rapid pulse and breathing.
  • Fever.

Chronic Pancreatitis:

  • Persistent abdominal pain, often radiating to the back.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Steatorrhea (fatty, foul-smelling stools) due to poor absorption of fats.
  • Diabetes mellitus due to damage to the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.



  • Physical Examination: A healthcare provider will perform a thorough physical examination, paying close attention to the abdomen for signs of tenderness, swelling, or jaundice.
  • Blood Tests: Elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes (amylase and lipase) in the blood can indicate pancreatitis.
  • Ultrasound: This can help identify gallstones or inflammation in the pancreas.
  • CT Scan or MRI: These provide detailed images of the pancreas and surrounding structures.
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS): This involves inserting a small ultrasound probe into the digestive tract to get detailed images of the pancreas.



  • Hospitalization: Severe cases of pancreatitis often require hospitalization. This allows for close monitoring and immediate intervention if complications arise.
  • Fasting and Intravenous (IV) Fluids: To give the pancreas time to rest, patients are typically not allowed to eat or drink anything for a period of time. They receive nutrients and fluids through an IV.
  • Pain Management: Medications are prescribed to manage pain, which can be quite severe in acute pancreatitis.


Addressing Underlying Causes:

  • For gallstone-related pancreatitis, removal of the gallbladder may be necessary.
  • For alcohol-induced pancreatitis, cessation of alcohol consumption is crucial.
  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy: In chronic cases, patients may need to take enzymes to help with digestion due to reduced pancreatic function.
  • Surgery: In severe cases or if complications arise (such as abscess formation), surgery may be required.


Pancreatitis is a complex and potentially serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. Understanding its causes, recognizing its symptoms, and seeking timely treatment can greatly improve the prognosis for individuals affected by this condition. With appropriate medical intervention and lifestyle changes, many people can effectively manage pancreatitis and lead fulfilling lives.

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