​​Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is the sudden inflammation of the pancreas (gland in the upper abdomen that produces enzymes for digestion and hormones for regulating glucose processing) due to the activation of digestive enzymes in the pancreas and an attack of these enzymes on the pancreas. Normally the enzymes produced are inactive until they reach the small intestine. 

Acute pancreatitis can last for a few days (acute) and may become life-threatening but usually there are high chances of recovering from acute pancreatitis. In severe cases, acute pancreatitis can lead to internal bleeding in the pancreas, tissue damage, infection and cyst formation. 

People who have a history of gallstones​ and alcoholism are at a greater risk of getting acute pancreatitis. Other causes may include:

  • Abdominal surgery

  • Smoking 

  • Certain medications 

  • Excessive amounts of fats and fatty acids in the blood (hyperlipidaemia)

  • Excessive amount of calcium in the blood (hyperkalaemia)

  • Infection​

Symptoms for acute pancreatitis include:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen

  • Pain that travels to the back

  • Pain aggravated by eating

  • Swollen and tender abdomen

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Fever​

In the event of acute pancreatitis, timely consultation with a doctor is very important. Visit the Internal Medicine Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital, in case of persistent abdominal pain. If the pain gets unbearable, seek immediate medical help. ​
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

To diagnose acute pancreatitis, your doctor may conduct a simple blood test to determine the levels of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. High levels of these enzymes indicate acute pancreatitis. Other tests, to aid in the diagnosis, may include:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) scan in which a series of detailed images, of the body, will be taken by a computer. This is done to detect the presence of gallstones and pancreatic inflammation.

  • Abdominal ultrasound, in which sound waves and a sensor will be used to detect the presence of gallstones and inflammation in the pancreas. Sound waves will be sent towards the pancreas by a handheld device that will be moved across the abdomen that will create an image on the computer to be studied by the doctor.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the abdomen in which a series of detailed images of the body will be made on the computer using a magnet and radio waves. This is done to look for abnormalities in the gallbladder, pancreas and ducts.​​

  • Complete blood count (CBC): One or more parameters related to red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets might be affected in this condition, giving a clue towards etiology and further diagnostic approach. Therefore, it is an ancillary test in the diagnostic workup of this disease.

    Disclaimer: Kindly consult your physician before getting the above-mentioned tests.​

​You may be admitted to the hospital to receive the primary treatment involving:
  • Pain medications to control any severe pain

  • Intravenous (IV) fluids for hydration 

In severe cases of acute pancreatitis, you may be admitted to the intensive care unit. You will be kept under observation as the pancreatitis can cause damage to the heart, lungs or kidneys. You may also have to undergo surgery to remove the compromised part of the pancreas that may have been damaged due to infection.​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.