Pancreatitis: Diagnosis, Treatment


Tests and procedures used to diagnose pancreatitis include:

  • Blood tests to look for elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes
  • Stool tests in chronic pancreatitis to measure levels of fat.

Computerized tomography (CT)

A CT scan is a non invasive radiograph (x-ray) that produces 3-dimensional images of parts of the body. It is not performed in initial stages of acute pancreatitis, it may be performed when a diagnosis is done when patient is not recovering quickly, then the patient is hospitalized for several days to evaluate the extent of pancreatic damage. The main purpose of CT scan is to diagnosis any gallstones and how extent the inflammation of pancreas.

Abdominal ultrasound:

This is also usually conducted during hospitalization to specifically evaluate the gallbladder for stones. Ultrasound uses sound waves that bounce off the pancreas, gallbladder, liver, and other organs. If gallstones are causing inflammation, the sound waves will also bounce off of them, showing their location.

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS):

This test is to look for inflammation and blockages in the pancreatic duct or bile duct. It is not commonly required during acute pancreatitis. Compared to abdominal ultrasound, it is more invasive, in that a physician passes a flexible thin tube down into the stomach. A camera attached to the end of the tube enable the physician to look at images of the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver. It is helpful in detecting small stones in the gallbladder and bile ducts that may have been missed. It can also visualize the pancreas for abnormalities.

Magnetic Resonance Cholangio Pancreatography (MRCP):

MRCP uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), it is a noninvasive procedure that produces cross-section images of parts of the body. The technician injects dye into the patient’s veins, which helps show the pancreas, gallbladder, and pancreatic and bile ducts. It is to look for abnormalities in the gallbladder, pancreas and ducts.

Some other test may be recommended by your doctor, if required.


Initial treatments in the hospital may include:

Fasting:  You should stop eating for a couple of days in the hospital to give your pancreas a chance to recover. If the pancrease inflammation in is controlled, you may start drinking clear liquids and eating bland foods. Likewise, you can go back to your normal diet.

If your pancreatitis is still hurting and feeling pain when eating, you are suggested tube feeding by your doctor that help you get nutrition.

Pain medications:  Pancreatitis can cause severe pain. Certain medications are given to control the pain.

Intravenous (IV) fluids:  As your body needs energy and fluids to repairing your pancreas, doctors give you extra fluids through a vein in your arm to avoid dehydration.

Surgical Treatments:

If Once your pancreatitis is under your control, your are ready for treatment. Depending on the cause of your pancreatitis, treatment may include:

  • Gallbladder surgery: If there are gallstones in your pancreas and it is the cause for pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder (cholecystectomy).
  • Pancreas surgery: If your pancreas is filled with fluids or had any damaged tissue, then pancreas Surgery may be necessary.
  • Removal of bile duct obstructions: The surgery of opening bile duct is required when pancreatitis is caused by a narrowed or blocked bile duct.
  • Treatment for alcohol dependence. Drinking several drinks a day over many years can cause pancreatitis. If this is the cause of your pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend you enter a treatment program for alcohol addiction. Continuing to drink may worsen your pancreatitis and lead to serious complications.

Lifestyle Changes

Once you leave the hospital, you can follow some steps to continue your recovery from pancreatitis, such as:

  • Stop drinking alcohol
  • Stop smoking
  • Choose a low-fat diet
  • Eat more Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Include whole grains, and lean protein.
  • Drink more fluids

Drinking a lot of alcohol per a day over many years can cause pancreatitis, then your doctor may recommend you enter a alcohol addiction treatment program. Continuing to drink alcohol will worsen your condition and lead to serious complications.