Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, the organ behind your stomach that makes hormones like insulin to control how your body regulates sugar and produces enzymes that help you digest food. It’s the enzymes that damage the pancreases, causing inflammation.

Symptoms of pancreatitis, like pain in the upper belly or back, can happen quickly or emerge over the course of several years.

Inflammation of the pancreas is often caused by gallstones or long-term misuse of alcohol. If the enzymes move into different parts of the pancreas, they can irritate it and cause pain and swelling.


Why You Should See A Digestive Health Center Specialist

Pancreatitis requires medical attention because it can lead to serious complications like breathing problems, kidney failure and pancreatic cancer. If left untreated, pancreatitis can cause life-threatening damage or infection.


Common Symptoms

Pancreatitis, whether it’s acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term), usually becomes noticeable with pain in the upper abdomen. The pain, mild or severe, can last for days.

Other symptoms of acute pancreatitis:

  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Bloating or tenderness in the abdomen.
  • Indigestion.

Additional symptoms of chronic pancreatitis:

  • Abdominal pain that spreads to the back.
  • Constant, intense pain.
  • Pain gets worse after eating.
  • Weight loss.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes).

Seek treatment as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms.


Note: If you have chronic pancreatitis, you might not notice symptoms until they lead to complications.


Other Causes of Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is often caused by gallstones. These are small, solid masses in the gallbladder or bile ducts that block the bile duct and cause severe pain.

Alcoholism contributes to both short- and long-term pancreatitis. Some genetic and autoimmune diseases can also cause pancreatitis.


Complications of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis, whether acute or chronic, can lead to:

  • Kidney failure.
  • Pseudocysts (a fluid-filled sac that, if it bursts, can cause internal bleeding or infection).
  • Breathing problems related to a chemical change than affects how your lungs work.
  • Blockage or narrowing in a bile or pancreatic duct.
  • Damaged pancreas.
  • Pancreatic-duct leakage.
  • Infection.
  • Malnutrition, diarrhea and weight loss
  • Diabetes.
  • Infection.
  • Pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatitis and Lifestyle Changes

Talk to your Digestive Health Center doctor about how reducing alcohol use and stopping smoking can help reduce or eliminate pancreatitis symptoms. Those with chronic pancreatitis should consider a low-fat diet that includes several small meals a day to avoid overtaxing your digestive system.


Screenings & Tests/Treatments

Blood tests: Check levels of digestive enzymes, blood sugar, blood fats (lipids) and any indications of infection, inflammation or pancreatic cancer.

Stool-sample tests.

Ultrasound: An imaging test that can detect gallstones.

Computed tomography (CT) scan: Pictures from a CT scan can reveal pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP): A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine provides pictures without X-rays of your pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts.

Gallbladder removal: If gallstones are causing your pancreatitis, your doctor might suggest a procedure called cholecystectomy to remove your gallbladder.

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): Two types of tests, an endoscopy and X-ray, help identify and treat abnormalities like strictures (narrowing), gallstones and cysts in your bile and pancreatic ducts, liver and gallbladder.

Puestow procedure: During open surgery, the pancreatic duct is opened and connected to the small intestine so that the pancreas drain directly into the intestines.

Total pancreatectomy: Surgical removal of the pancreas. Though rare, you might need total pancreatectomy if you have severe pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer or have suffered damage to your pancreas.


Make an Appointment

Call to schedule an appointment with a GI specialist at Hartford Hospital.
Ask your doctor for a referral before you call.

Call 833.431.0004


Meet our Pancreatitis Specialists:

Name Specialties Location
Bliss, Lindsay Ann, MD, MPH 860.246.2071
  • Surgical Oncology
  • General Surgery
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • Farmington
Show Less
Curtis, David Eugene, MD 860.246.2071
  • Hepatobiliary and Surgical Oncology
  • General Surgery
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • Glastonbury
Show Less
Dailey, Mark Edward, MD 860.249.6291
  • Hematology / Oncology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Medical Oncology
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • Avon
  • Hartford
  • Willimantic
  • Willimantic
Show Less
Elias, Rawad, MD 860.249.6291
  • Medical Oncology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Hematology / Oncology
  • Internal Medicine
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • Hartford
  • Willimantic
Show Less
Giove, Lawrence M., MD 860.246.6647
  • Medical Oncology
  • Hematology / Oncology
  • Internal Medicine
Show Less
  • Wethersfield
Golioto, Michael John, MD 860.246.2571
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hartford
Hong, Timothy Joonki, MD 860.249.6291
  • Hematology / Oncology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Medical Oncology
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • Avon
  • Willimantic
  • Willimantic
Show Less
Jo, Kevin Seungho, MD 203.886.0036
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
Show Less
  • Wallingford
  • Hartford
Show Less
Karasik, Michael Steven, MD 860.246.2571
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • Bloomfield
  • Farmington
  • Glastonbury
Show Less
Mehendiratta, Vaibhav, MD 860.246.2571
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • Glastonbury
  • Norwich
Show Less
Nestler, Jeffry Laurence, MD 860.246.2571
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hartford
  • Farmington
  • Glastonbury
Show Less
Rochon, Caroline, MD, FACS 860.972.4219
  • Transplant Surgery
  • General Surgery
  • Hepatobiliary and Surgical Oncology
Show Less
  • Hartford
Schipper, Bret Mitchell, MD, FACS, CPE 860.696.2040
  • Surgical Oncology
  • General Surgery
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • New Britain
Show Less
Serrano, Oscar K., MD 860.972.4219
  • Transplant Surgery
  • General Surgery
  • Hepatobiliary and Surgical Oncology
Show Less
  • Hartford
Swales, Colin Thomas, MD 860.972.4262
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Transplant Hepatology
Show Less
  • Hartford
Williamson, Jonathan Blair, MD 860.246.2571
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • Bloomfield
  • Farmington
Show Less

Digestive Health Center