Pancreatitis

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Pancreatitis Main Page

Patient Information

Overview

Causes

Classification

Acute Pancreatitis
Chronic Pancreatitis
Hereditary Pancreatitis
Autoimmune Pancreatitis

Differential Diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1], Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: ; Iqra Qamar M.D.[2]

Overview

Pancreatitis is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas characterized by reversible or irreversible changes in pancreatic structure and function leading to inflammation and fibrosis. The concept of pancreas and pancreatic duct was first described by Johannes Wirsung of Padua in 1642. 

Causes

Type of pancreatitis Causes
Acute pancreatitis
  • Gallstones
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Genetic
  • Autoimmune
  • Iatrogenic
  • Trauma
  • Infection
  • Surgical
  • Obstruction
Chronic pancreatitis
Autoimmune pancreatitis
  • Idiopathic
  • Systemic autoimmune conditions
Hereditary pancreatitis
  • Genetic mutations

Classification

Differential Diagnosis

Differentiating Pancreatitis from other diseases on the basis of Abdominal pain and weight loss:

Abbreviations: RUQ= Right upper quadrant of the abdomen, LUQ= Left upper quadrant, LLQ= Left lower quadrant, RLQ= Right lower quadrant, LFT= Liver function test, SIRS= Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, ERCP= Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, IV= Intravenous, N= Normal, AMA= Anti mitochondrial antibodies, LDH= Lactate dehydrogenase, GI= Gastrointestinal, CXR= Chest X ray, IgA= Immunoglobulin A, IgG= Immunoglobulin G, IgM= Immunoglobulin M, CT= Computed tomography, PMN= Polymorphonuclear cells, ESR= Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, CRP= C-reactive protein, TS= Transferrin saturation, SF= Serum Ferritin, SMA= Superior mesenteric artery, SMV= Superior mesenteric vein, ECG= Electrocardiogram

Disease Clinical manifestations Diagnosis Comments
Symptoms Signs
Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging
Chronic pancreatitis Epigastric ± ± + + N
  • Increased amylase / lipase
  • Increased stool fat content
  • Pancreatic function test
CT scan
  • Calcification
  • Pseudocyst
  • Dilation of main pancreatic duct
  • Predisposes to pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic carcinoma Epigastric + + + + N

Skin manifestations may include:

Peptic ulcer disease Diffuse ± + + Positive if perforated Positive if perforated Positive if perforated N
  • Ascitic fluid
    • LDH > serum LDH
    • Glucose < 50mg/dl
    • Total protein > 1g/dl
Disease Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging Comments
Gastritis Epigastric ± + Positive in chronic gastritis + N
Gastric outlet obstruction Epigastric ± + Hyperactive
  • Abdominal x-ray- air fluid level
  • Barium upper GI studies- narrowed pylorus
  • Succussion splash
Gastroparesis Epigastric + + ± Hyperactive/hypoactive
  • Hemoglobin
  • Fasting plasma glucose
  • Serum total protein, albumin, thyrotropin (TSH), and an antinuclear antibody (ANA) titer
  • HbA1c
  • Scintigraphic gastric emptying
  • Succussion splash
  • Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
  • Full thickness gastric and small intestinal biopsy
Dumping syndrome Lower and then diffuse + + + + Hyperactive
  • Glucose challenge test
  • Hydrogen breath test
  • Upper GI series
  • Gastric emptying study
  • Postgastrectomy
Disease Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging Comments
Inflammatory bowel disease Diffuse ± ± + + + Normal or hyperactive

Extra intestinal findings:

Irritable bowel syndrome Diffuse ± ± + N Normal Normal Symptomatic treatment
Whipple's disease Diffuse ± ± + + ± N Endoscopy is used to confirm diagnosis.

Images used to find complications

Extra intestinal findings:
Disease Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging Comments
Tropical sprue Diffuse + + + N Barium studies:
  • Dilation and edema of mucosal folds
Celiac disease Diffuse + + Hyperactive US:
  • Bull’s eye or target pattern
  • Pseudokidney sign
  • Gluten allergy
Colon carcinoma Diffuse/localized ± ± + + ±
  • Normal or hyperactive if obstruction present
  • CBC
  • Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)
  • Colonoscopy
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Barium enema
  • CT colonography 
  • PILLCAM 2: A colon capsule for CRC screening may be used in patients with an incomplete colonoscopy who lacks obstruction
Viral hepatitis RUQ + + + Positive in Hep A and E + Positive in fulminant hepatitis Positive in acute + N
  • Abnormal LFTs
  • Viral serology
  • US
  • Hep A and E have fecal-oral route of transmission
  • Hep B and C transmits via blood transfusion and sexual contact.
Liver abscess RUQ + + + + ± + + + ± Normal or hypoactive
  • US
  • CT
Hepatocellular carcinoma/Metastasis RUQ + + +
  • Normal
  • Hyperactive if obstruction present
  • US
  • CT
  • Liver biopsy

Other symptoms:

Disease Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging Comments
Cirrhosis RUQ + + + + N US
  • Stigmata of liver disease
  • Cruveilhier- Baumgarten murmur
Small bowel obstruction Diffuse + + + + + + ± Hyperactive then absent Abdominal X ray
  • Dilated loops of bowel with air fluid levels
  • Gasless abdomen
  • "Target sign"– , indicative of intussusception
  • Venous cut-off sign" – suggests thrombosis
Mesenteric ischemia Periumbilical Positive if bowel becomes gangrenous + + + + Positive if bowel becomes gangrenous Positive if bowel becomes gangrenous Hyperactive to absent CT angiography
  • SMA or SMV thrombosis
  • Also known as abdominal angina that worsens with eating
Acute ischemic colitis Diffuse + ± + + + + + + + Hyperactive then absent Abdominal x-ray
  • Distension and pneumatosis

CT scan

  • Double halo appearance, thumbprinting
  • Thickening of bowel
  • May lead to shock
Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm Diffuse ± + + + + N
  • Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (FAST) 
  • Unstable hemodynamics
Pleural empyema RUQ/Epigastric + ± + N Chest X-ray
  • Pleural opacity
  • Localization of effusion
Physical examination



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