Pancreatitis chronic is when the pancreas is permanently damaged due to inflammation and stops working correctly. The condition affects people of any age and is more common in men than women. It differs from acute pancreatitis, where the inflammation is short. Often people with chronic pancreatitis have one or more acute pancreatitis attacks.
Chronic pancreatitis symptoms
The typical symptom of the condition is frequent episodes of severe abdomen pain. The pain often develops in your abdomen’s left or the middle and moves along your back. Shooting or burning pain that comes and goes can also last for several hours or days.
Though the pain comes after eating a meal, there are often no triggers, while some might feel sick and vomit during pain.
Chronic pancreatitis causes
Alcohol abuse or overconsumption of alcohol is the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis, which can also cause repeated acute pancreatitis episodes that increase organ damage.
Cystic fibrosis is the most common cause of the condition among children.
Other less causes include:
- Autoimmune chronic pancreatitis (where your immune system attacks the pancreas)
- Genetic (inheriting faulty genes that stops your pancreas from working)
- Pancreas injury
- Radiotherapy to your abdomen
- Gallstones (will block your pancreas’ opening)
In rare cases, there are no identified causes, which is called idiopathic chronic pancreatitis.
Chronic pancreatitis diagnosis
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you accordingly. They will suggest or refer you to a specialist for further tests that include:
- Ultrasound scan: Where they use sound waves to create an image of your pancreas
- CT scan: Where they will take a series of X-rays to build a more clear 3D image of your pancreas
- Endoscopic ultrasound: They will insert a thin tube containing a camera through your mouth and down your stomach to take detailed live pictures of your pancreas
- Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (a type of MRI scan)
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022