Diagnosis and management of acute pancreatitis

Abilio Munoz, David A. Katerndahl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Acute pancreatitis usually occurs as a result of alcohol abuse or bile duct obstruction. A careful review of the patient's history and appropriate laboratory studies can help the physician identify the etiology of the condition and guide management. Serum amylase and lipase levels are still used to confirm the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis. Although not routinely available, the serum trypsin level is the most accurate laboratory indicator for pancreatitis. Ultrasonography, computed tomography and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography are additional modalities that can help the family physician choose the best treatment approach. Prompt identification of patients who need intensive care referral or subspecialty consultation is crucial. The APACHE II and the multiple organ system failure scales provide prognostic information at the time of admission and may be repeated daily to monitor disease progression. Therapies such as nasogastric suctioning, anticholinergics and histamine H2-receptor blockers have not been shown to decrease symptoms or hospital stays in patients with acute pancreatitis. Systemic antibiotics have been found to improve outcome in patients with severe disease. With supportive care, most patients have a good clinical outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-174
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican family physician
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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