Diagnosis of pancreatitis can be difficult, and different types of pancreatitis require different tests. Tests usually involve the following:
- Blood tests are a first step but blood tests alone cannot confirm the condition
- Imaging tests of the pancreas and to check for gallstones can include:
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- X-rays to rule out other symptom causes
Diagnosing chronic pancreatitis is challenging because testing may yield normal results. Mayo Clinic doctors rely on several tests to rule out other conditions and aid in the diagnosis, including:
- Blood tests
- Stool tests to measure fecal fat content. Chronic pancreatitis often causes excess fat in the stool.
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) to view the pancreas and the bile and pancreatic ducts.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to visualize the bile ducts. Mayo Clinic uses a more advanced ERCP system, which allows your doctor to view the entire biliary tract using a fiberoptic probe that can take tissue samples for examination (biopsy). This offers far more accurate diagnosis and the probe can also be used to remove gallstones from the bile ducts; gallstones can contribute to pancreatitis.
- Pancreatic function tests measure the ability of the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes.
Other tests may be recommended if there are concerns about other possible diseases, such as pancreatic cancer. People with chronic pancreatitis have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.