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Gastroenterologists at Houston Methodist Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders offer specialized, collaborate care focused on the diagnosis, treatment and ongoing pain management of pancreatitis.
Pancreatic specialists at the Underwood Center offer highly specialized care focused on the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, including pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is inflammation within the pancreas. The inflammation can be sudden (acute) or gradual (chronic). A mild case may not require treatment at all. Severe pancreatic damage can occur when the condition becomes chronic.
If left untreated, pancreatitis could lead to life-threatening complications, such as breathing problems or kidney failure.
Advanced Pancreatic Care
Our multidisciplinary approach includes specialists in digestive diseases and gastrointestinal surgery as well as experienced interventional radiologists. Our extensive experience in treating patients with mild to severe pancreatitis means we offer the latest and most comprehensive treatment options to address your specific condition.
Houston Methodist Hospital is ranked No. 5 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery. U.S. News & World Report has also named Houston Methodist Hospital the No. 1 hospital in Texas every year since the award began and one of the nation’s best as a nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital.
Pancreatitis Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
What are the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis?
Signs and symptoms of chronic pancreatitis may include:
- Irregular stools that can worsen with the consumption of foods and drinks
- Significant weight loss
Acute pancreatitis is most often characterized by a sudden, severe pain in the abdomen. The pain may last hours or days, radiating to the back, with associated nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms of severe pancreatitis are ongoing in nature and may include any of the following:
- Low blood pressure
- Swollen, tender abdomen
Call your doctor at the Underwood Center immediately if you experience any symptoms of severe pancreatitis.
What causes pancreatitis?
Common causes for both acute and chronic pancreatitis may include:
- Certain medications – antibiotics, immune suppression medicine, diuretics and more
- Heavy alcohol use
- High triglyceride levels – more than 500 mg/dL
How is pancreatitis diagnosed and treated?
Your doctor may conduct any of the following procedures to diagnose pancreatitis:
- Endoscopic ultrasound – passes a thin, lighted tube with an ultrasound probe through the mouth and into the stomach and small intestine to create a visual image of the pancreas
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – produces 3D images of the pancreas
- Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) – uses a magnetic field and radio waves to evaluate the pancreas
If your doctor diagnoses you with pancreatitis, a pain management specialist at the Underwood Center will develop a treatment plan that includes dietary and general lifestyle recommendations. Your doctor may also prescribe additional treatments, such as:
- Endoscopic stent placement – small tube widens a blocked or narrow pancreatic duct
- Nonoperative medical care – nonsurgical methods to reduce inflammation and manage pain
- Pancreatic surgery