Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is a condition that develops when the pancreas is damaged by an inflammation that leads to swelling and sometimes to necrosis (death) of parts of the pancreas. In about 85% of patients, acute pancreatitis is a mild disease and is associated with a rapid recovery within a few days of onset of the illness.

In about 15-20% of patients, acute pancreatitis can lead to severe damage of the pancreas associated with the development of pancreatic necrosis (parts of the pancreas becomes dead).

Development of pancreatic necrosis often lead to a severe illness associated with an extended hospital stay, multiple surgical procedures and occasionally death in some patients.

Patients with severe acute pancreatitis are at risk for developing the following complications:

  • Failure of multiple body organ systems such as the heart, lungs, liver and kidney.
  • Pancreatic necrosis (parts of the pancreas becomes dead)
  • Infected pancreatic necrosis (infection of the dead pancreas)
  • Pancreatic abscess
  • Pseudocysts
  • Pancreatic fistula
  • Damage to surrounding organs such as small bowel, colon and duodenum by the inflammation

Specialty Treatments for Acute Pancreatitis Offered by the USC Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases:

  • Laparoscopic surgery for pancreatic abscess, pancreatic necrosis and pseudocyst.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis is a condition associated with widespread scarring and destruction of pancreatic tissue. This condition is mostly frequently associated with alcohol abuse and excessive smoking. The scarring and destruction of pancreatic tissue develops from inflammatory damage of the pancreas over many years due to the effects of alcohol. In many patients this condition may develop without any apparent cause. Chronic pancreatitis is a slowly progressive disease that takes many years to develop.

Patients with Chronic Pancreatitis Are at Risk for Developing
the Following Problems:

  • Severe chronic pain
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Poor absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract especially fats
  • Cancer of the pancreas
  • Blockage of bile ducts
  • Pseudocyst
  • Bleeding from the stomach