Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach that secretes digestive enzymes, insulin and a hormone called glucagon. Pancreatitis in the trauma patient is generally associated with prolonged alcohol abuse, or abdominal trauma.

Symptoms & Signs

  • Belly pain that is greatest in the upper abdomen, which increases after eating or drinking
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Mild jaundice
  • Gaseous abdominal fullness or swollen abdomen
  • Hiccups
  • Indigestion
  • Clay colored stools
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate

Diagnosis and Treatment

A series of blood tests will be performed along with a CT scan of the belly. Treatment is aimed at supportive measures such as providing adequate intravenous (IV) fluids, pain relief, and not allowing the patient to eat or drink by mouth. This restricts pancreatic activity that makes symptoms worse. Sometimes when nausea and vomiting or severe pain is experienced, a tube is placed in the nose or mouth, which extends to the belly and allows suctioning of belly juices.


The symptoms usually resolve in a week in most cases; however, in some cases life threatening illness develops.


Source Citation: “Acute Pancreatitis”. Muir, Andrew J., MEDLINEplus Medical Encyclopedia. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. 04/25/2002.