Almost all cases of pancreatitis require care in the hospital. Mild cases of acute pancreatitis generally improve in a week or less, while moderate to severe cases can require a lengthy hospital stay. Patients with complications may be admitted to the intensive care unit to undergo treatment.
- Controlling pain through medications and rest.
- Restoring a normal fluid and electrolyte balance and providing nutrition by way of intestinal tubes and intravenous fluid.
- Treating chemical dependency, if alcohol use is the cause of pancreatitis.
- Removing gallstones that can often be associated with pancreatitis. Doctors may use endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to remove gallstones from the bile duct, or surgery to remove the gallbladder in cases of severe or recurring gallstones.
- Draining fluid from pancreatic ducts with minimally invasive surgery, including stent procedures.
Treatment options include:
- Chemical dependency treatment is the most important step in treating alcohol-related pancreatitis.
- Pain relief drugs
- Endoscopic therapy by introducing stents to drain blocked pancreatic ducts
- Shock wave lithotripsy to pulverize pancreatic stones
- Surgery (laparoscopic and traditional)
- Islet cell transplantation may be offered if most or all of the pancreas is removed.
- Enzyme therapy for malabsorption helps restore normal digestion and reduces the amount of fat in the feces, leading to weight gain and improved well-being. Dietary changes such as eating smaller meals and limiting fats help reduce the need for digestive enzymes.
- Treatment of diabetes, if that develops
For more information about pancreatitis treatment, visit MayoClinic.com.