Acute Pancreatitis Causes, Diagnosis and Care at Ohio State


Acute pancreatitis, as the name implies, is
a process that occurs immediately. It is a painful disease that has a few causes. We still don’t know what causes a percentage
of this disease. It can be incapacitating, even though thankfully
most patients have a benign course. It tends to be a very acute and intense onset. Actually it’s been described as one of the
most severe pains that a human being can experience. The pain is extremely sharp. It is in the upper part of the abdomen, lower
part of the chest and it usually shoots directly towards the back. Most of the time the diagnosis is made in
the emergency department, that’s where patients go because this pain is so severe that they
usually will not have time to wait for a doctor’s appointment. The two most common causes of acute pancreatitis
are gallstones and alcohol. We can’t prevent gallstones but, you know,
alcohol consumption can be moderated to try to prevent it. There are many other causes we now know of,
for example, medications, which sometimes we ignore or sometimes we’re just learning
that they it can cause it. And in about ten or fifteen percent of the
cases the cause remains obscure. That’s where we come in. That’s where the challenge begins–to try
to diagnose what’s going on, to try to prevent recurrences and try to treat the disease so
it does not become severe or chronic. Patients usually require supportive care,
pain control, IV hydration and depending on the presentation, may require interventions
to remove stones, to drain fluid that’s collected, sometimes even much more aggressive treatment
such as ventilator support, blood pressure control and so forth. Most cases of acute pancreatitis occur one
time and you’re done. That’s the good news. The bad news is the subset of patients who
have recurrent attacks sometimes affect the secondary organs such as the kidney, the liver,
the heart. Those are the patients that need to see a
specialist to try to figure out why that’s occurring and try to prevent further attacks
from damaging not only their pancreas, but other organs. As with other diseases of the pancreas, we
know little about what causes it and we certainly have much less in the way of treatment. So we have to improve that because even though
in survival and long term patients do pretty well, there are a subset of patients who will
benefit from some form of treatment. And that’s one of the other focus of our investigation
and research into finding ways not only to diagnose it earlier, but also to find ways
to treat this potentially deadly disease.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *