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The pancreas has 3 main functions. I makes:

Bicarbonate to nutralize gastric acid as the meal enters the small intestine, Digestive enzymes - enough to turn an intire meal to liquid so that it can be absobed, and Insulin.

Acute pancreatitis can be defined clinically as an acute condition typically presenting with abdominal pain and is usually associated with elevated pancreatic enzymes in blood or urine, owing to inflammatory disease of the pancreas.

Chronic pancreatitis can be defined as a continuing inflammatory disease of the pancreas characterized by irreversible morphologic change and typically causing pain and/or permanent impairment of function. Clinically, about 80% present with recurrent or persistent abdominal pain. In more advanced stages of chronic pancreatits patients develop maldigestion or loss of endocrine function leading to diabetes mellitus. Morphologically, chronic pancreatitis has areas of fibrosis with loss of parenchyma in focal, segmental or diffuse patterns and is usually associated with ductal changes.

Hereditary pancreatitis is an unusual form of pancreatitis that runs in families. Affected family members have BOTH acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis that is indistinguishable from other forms of pancreatitis. These family members also have a 50-fold increase risk of pancreatic cancer.