Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach. Normally, enzymes released by the pancreas become active when they reach the small intestine, but when the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes inside the pancreas attack and damage the tissues that produce them.
Pancreatitis is serious and can lead to complications.
Acute pancreatitis usually requires hospitalization, and will resolve in a few days with treatment. Patients will be advised not to smoke, drink alcohol, or eat fatty foods. Sometimes more tests are needed to determine the cause of pancreatitis.
If narrowing of the pancreatic or bile ducts is suspected, a specialized technique called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is used to view and inspect the pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts.