Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis

Acute and chronic pancreatitis. An update on management.


Therapeutic measures for acute pancreatitis depend on the severity of the disease and its complications. Since complications of acute pancreatitis may develop at any time, patients should be admitted to an intensive care unit for assessment (and frequent reassessment) of the severity of the disease and the development of complications.

Basic therapy should include relief of pain, total fasting, nasogastric suction, parenteral replacement of fluids, electrolytes, albumin and blood, and antibiotics.

Hyperglycaemia should be corrected and heparin should be given in cases of disseminated intravascular coagulation. In renal insufficiency, peritoneal dialysis is important, and in respiratory complications, humidified oxygen or artificial ventilation including positive and expiratory pressure therapy should be applied. Although the effect of peritoneal dialysis has been proven only in animal experiments and in retrospective studies in man, it is recommended in severe cases for shock therapy and for correction of electrolyte imbalance when ascites is present, even before anuria occurs. Conservative treatment measures in chronic pancreatitis are limited to the management of pain and of exocrine and endocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

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