Pancreatitis is a condition determined by the inflammation of the pancreas. There are many symptoms that patients will experience as the pancreas becomes inflamed, on which the diagnosis is based.
Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic, these being the two forms of the disease.
- Acute pancreatitis begins suddenly and lasts for a few days. In the great majority of cases the disease is caused by gallstones or heavy alcohol consumption. Trauma and infections can be other causes of the condition. Statistics show that in about 10 to 15 cases, the causes of this disease are not known. It can rarely be a life threatening disease, actually more than 80 percent of all patients recovering completely after undergoing a pancreatitis treatment.
- Chronic pancreatitis occurs over several years. It is described as the result of acute pancreatitis, even though in about 45 percent of all cases, the disease is determined by prolonged and heavy alcohol consumption. Symptoms will include pain, loss of pancreas function, but also digestion problems.
Symptoms can be experienced as soon as the disease is formed, but in some cases it can actually take years until the patient will experience the first signs of the disease. Some of the most common symptoms, which should alarm patients and determine them seek medical care include:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Swollen and tender abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss.
As soon as a patient feels the first symptoms of the disease, medical checkups will be required. Actually, the disease is diagnosed having under consideration both symptoms and risk factors.
Risk factors include:
- Gallstone disease
- Prolong or heavy alcohol consumption
- Various hereditary conditions
- High Triglycerides and lupus diseases.
Specialists will check the patient’s medical history and will base its diagnosis on symptoms, risk factors, but only after several medical tests. One of the most important tests which can diagnose the disease regards measuring the level of the two digestive enzymes in the blood. A high such level will indicate the forming of this condition.
Blood urine and stool tests can also confirm a diagnosis, as well determine the stage of advancement of the disease.
The Pancreatic function test will determine if normal levels of digestive enzymes are produced by the pancreas.
The Glucose tolerance test is performed with the purpose to measure the damage formed in the pancreatic cells which produce insulin.
The Ultrasound and the CT scan tests produce images of the pancreas with the main purpose to detect all kind of abnormalities.
The Endoscopic ultrasound and biopsy test actually supposes taking a small sample of tissue from the pancreas’ abnormality, for lab examinations. The test is made with the use of a fine needle. Samples are taken for study.
Diagnosis will suppose a few steps. For starters, the patient will be asked questions about his medical history, symptoms and main risk factors. Then, a blood sample will be taken for tests. Abdominal ultrasound will most likely be performed before any other kind of test, aiming to diagnose the cause of the disease. Characteristics CT scan can also be required to confirm the diagnosis of the condition.