What is the best treatment for acute pancreatitis?

Initial treatments in the hospital may include:

  • Nutritional support. Although the diet of many people with mild acute pancreatitis isn’t restricted, some people are advised not to eat as digesting solid food could place too much strain on your pancreas. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may not be able to eat solid foods for a few days or longer. If you need to avoid solid food, a feeding tube may be used to provide your body with nutrients. This is known as enteral feeding and often involves using a tube inserted into your stomach through your nose (nasogastric tube). With time, you can go back to your normal diet.
  • Pain medications. Pancreatitis can cause severe pain. Your health care team will give you medications to help control the pain.
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids. As your body devotes energy and fluids to repairing your pancreas, you may become dehydrated. For this reason, you’ll receive extra fluids through a vein in your arm during your hospital stay.
  • Oxygen. To ensure your vital organs have enough oxygen, it will usually be supplied through tubes into your nose. The tubes can be removed after a few days, once your condition is improving. In severe cases, ventilation equipment may also be used to assist with your breathing.

Once your pancreatitis is under control, your health care team will evaluate and treat the underlying cause of your pancreatitis. Depending on the cause of your pancreatitis, treatment may include: Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

  • Procedures to remove bile duct obstructions. Pancreatitis caused by a narrowed or blocked bile duct may require procedures to open or widen the bile duct.A procedure called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) uses a long tube with a camera on the end to examine your pancreas and bile ducts. The tube is passed down your throat, and the camera sends pictures of your digestive system to a monitor. Anesthesia is used for this procedure. ERCP can aid in diagnosing problems in the bile duct and pancreatic duct and in removing obstructions, such as gallstones. In some people, however, ERCP can also lead to acute pancreatitis.
  • Gallbladder surgery. If gallstones caused your pancreatitis, your doctor will recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder (cholecystectomy).
  • Pancreas procedures. Endoscopic procedures may be necessary to drain fluid from your pancreas or to remove diseased tissue.
  • Treatment for alcohol dependence.  If alcohol abuse is the cause of your pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend you enter a treatment program for alcohol addiction or prescribe medication which helps to reduce your alcohol cravings
  • Medication changes: If a medication is deemed to be a cause of acute pancreatitis, your doctor may stop the medication and work with you to find alternative options.

Additional treatments for chronic pancreatitis

Depending on your situation, chronic pancreatitis may require additional treatments, including:

  • Pain management.┬áChronic pancreatitis can cause persistent abdominal pain. Your doctor will evaluate you for causes of chronic pancreatitis and may recommend medications to control your pain. If necessary, you may be referred to a pain specialist.Severe pain may be relieved with options such as endoscopic ultrasound or injections to block nerves that send pain signals from the pancreas to the brain.
  • Enzymes to improve digestion. In chronic pancreatitis leading to diarrhea or weight loss, pancreatic enzyme supplements can help your body break down and process the nutrients in the foods you eat. Pancreatic enzymes are taken with each meal.
  • Changes to your diet. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian who can help you plan low-fat meals that are high in nutrients.