Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation of the large gland, which is behind the stomach and nearby the duodenum, namely the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for secreting digestive enzymes into the small intestine through the pancreatic duct. These enzymes aid in digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in our food. The pancreas also makes the hormones insulin and glucagons.
Digestive enzymes are normally active, in the digestion of food, in the small intestine. If these enzymes are activated in the pancreas, they begin “digesting” the pancreas itself, causing acute pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis comes on suddenly with acute pain, usually lasts a short period of time, and then resolves. Many have one attack and improve. However, acute pancreatitis can be a severe, life-threatening illness with many complications.
Severe acute pancreatitis is usually known as acute necrotizing pancreatitis. This is the outcome of pancreatic glandular necrosis. Morbidity and mortality associated with acute pancreatitis are considerably higher when necrosis is present, particularly when the region of the necrosis is also infected. In severe cases, tissue damage, bleeding, and infection may ensue. Other complications may include the development of pseudocysts. These are a build up of fluid and tissue debris. There is also the risk of enzymes and toxins entering the bloodstream and causing damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys or other organs.
It is important to recognize acute necrotizing pancreatitis so that appropriate steps can be employed to manage it. In recent years, severe acute pancreatitis treatment has moved away from early surgical necrosectomy towards aggressive intensive medical care with exact standards for operative and non-operative interference.
Acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis an acute form due to autolysis of pancreatic tissue caused by escape of enzymes into the body. This results in hemorrhaging into the surrounding tissues.
Acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis is a life-threatening condition with a mortality rate of approximately fifty percent because of shock, inflammation, acute respiratory distress massive gastrointestinal bleeding and peritoneal infection.
The usual causes of acute pancreatitis are gallstones or excessive alcohol. However, these are not the only causes. Once alcohol use and gallstones are discounted, other possible causes of acute pancreatitis can be carefully examined to enable appropriate treatment.
Acute pancreatitis symptoms begin with acute pain in the upper abdomen that may last for a few days. The pain will be acute and constant, in the abdomen and maybe spreading to the back. A person with acute pancreatitis often looks and feels very sick.
Other symptoms may include nausea, swollen and tender abdomen, vomiting, fever and rapid pulse. Severe cases as in acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis may cause dehydration and a drop in blood pressure. The heart, lungs, or kidneys may fail. If bleeding occurs in the pancreas, shock and possibly death follow.
Diagnoses of acute pancreatitis will involve blood tests. This is because during these attacks the blood will contain a raised level of amylase and lipase than usual. These are digestive enzymes, which are made in the pancreas. There will also be changes in blood levels of glucose, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate. After the attack, these levels more often than not go back to normal. Additionally an abdominal ultrasound will be used to look for gallstones and a CAT scan to look for inflammation or damage of the pancreas. These are also practical in finding pseudocysts.
Acute pancreatitis treatment depends on how severe of the attack is. If there isn’t any damage to kidney, lungs or occurrence further complications, then acute pancreatitis usually improves on its own. Typically, is designed to support essential bodily functions and avoid complications. Fluids can be replaced intravenously. Advice will be given regarding the avoidance of alcohol and diet.