Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach that helps with digestion and turning food into energy. It may last a short time and go away with treatment (acute) or become long lasting (chronic) and capable of causing permanent damage.

The most common causes of pancreatitis include:

  • Gallstones
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Certain medications
  • Genetic disorders of the pancreas

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen that may extend to the back
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Rapid pulse
  • Weight loss

Acute pancreatitis lasts a short period of time and may go away in a few days with treatment. Chronic, or long-lasting, pancreatitis can get worse over time and cause permanent damage. You need to undergo treatment to manage either type of pancreatitis. Treatment may include a hospital stay to receive intravenous (IV) fluids, pain medicine, and other drugs. Doctors may recommend surgery to treat some problems caused by pancreatitis.

Patients who choose UAB Medicine for their gastrointestinal (GI) care benefit from our experienced specialists and the most advanced technology. In some cases, we can offer medications and other treatments being studied in clinical research trials that are not available at other medical centers. We combine these resources through our Pancreatobiliary Disease Center, which provides cutting-edge care for pancreatitis and other conditions that affect the pancreas. UAB Medicine is well-equipped to diagnose and manage pancreatobiliary disorders. Our doctors regularly consult with a patient’s current providers as part of an ongoing care plan.

The care team includes surgeons, diagnostic and interventional radiologists, gastroenterologists, critical care intensivists, nurses, genetic counselors, and other specialists. Our standard of care begins with a timely and thorough initial assessment of each case, followed by same-day testing and/or intervention if necessary. Our collaborative team will then develop and implement a personalized care plan that best suits the needs and preferences of each patient.

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