Pancreatitis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas is inflamed. The pancreas is an organ that makes insulin. The pancreas also makes enzymes (digestive juices) that help your body digest food. Pancreatitis may be an acute (short-term) problem that happens only once. It may become a chronic (long-term) problem that comes and goes over time.


CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Pancreatitis may lead to tissue damage and infection inside the pancreas. It can cause bleeding and fluid leakage into the abdomen. This can lead to low blood pressure, and failure of other organs. Pancreatitis can be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Heart monitor:

This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

IV:

An IV is a tube placed in your vein for giving medicine or liquids.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

Pulse oximeter:

A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

Nutrition support:

If you are not able to eat food normally, you may need to be fed through a feeding tube or a catheter. Some of the ways that you may be fed include the following:

  • Nasogastric (NG) tube: An NG tube is put into your nose, and passes down your throat until it reaches your stomach. Food and medicine may be given through an NG tube if you cannot take anything by mouth. The tube may instead be attached to suction if caregivers need to keep your stomach empty.

  • Jejunostomy tube (J-Tube): A jejunostomy tube is a small, flexible tube that is put into a small cut in your abdomen. The end of the tube goes into your small intestine (bowel). The tube is used to give you liquids, food, and medicine. You may have a J-tube for a short time, or long-term. If you need it long-term, your tube may need to be replaced with a new one at certain times.

  • TPN: TPN stands for total parenteral nutrition. It is also called hyperalimentation. It provides your body with nutrition such as protein, sugar, vitamins, minerals, and sometimes fat (lipids). TPN is used when you have problems with eating or digesting food. TPN is usually put into your body through a large IV catheter, such as a central line. You may need TPN for several days or longer.

Tests:

  • Abdominal ultrasound: This test is done so caregivers can see the tissues and organs of your abdomen. Gel will be put on your abdomen and a small sensor will be moved across your abdomen. The sensor uses sound waves to send pictures of your abdomen to a TV-like screen.

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection like pneumonia, or to look for collapsed lungs. Chest x-rays may show tumors, broken ribs, or fluid around the heart and lungs.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your abdomen. The pictures may show the amount of inflammation in your abdomen and other problems. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • ERCP: ERCP is also called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. This test is done during an endoscopy to find stones, tumors, or other problems. Dye is put into the endoscopy tube. The dye helps your pancreas and bile ducts show up better on x-rays. People who are allergic to shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) may be allergic to this dye. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to shellfish, dyes, or any medicines. If you have stones, they may be removed during ERCP.

  • Fine needle aspiration: You may need this procedure if caregivers think you have tissue damage and infection in your pancreas. A needle is inserted through your skin and into the area where damaged tissue or pus is located. Caregivers may use an ultrasound or a CT scan to help them find the right spot in your pancreas. A sample of the tissue and fluid is sent to the lab for tests.

  • MRCP: During this test, caregivers use magnetic waves to look for problems in and around your pancreas. They may look for gallstones, tumors, blocked pancreatic ducts (tubes), and other problems. You must lie very still during this test.

Surgery:

You may need to have surgery to remove your gallbladder if gallstones are causing your pancreatitis. You may need to have surgery to drain pockets of pus caused by an infection in your pancreas. You may need surgery to open up blocked ducts (tubes) that digestive juices flow through to get to the intestines.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Pancreatitis (Inpatient Care)

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