The diagnosis of acute pancreatitis is made by a combination of symptoms, physical exam findings, and laboratory tests including amylase and lipase. If the diagnosis is uncertain, abdominal imaging studies such as a computed tomography (CT) scan may also be necessary.
Chronic pancreatitis is characterized by intermittent or constant upper abdominal pain. Other features of chronic pancreatitis include greasy or oily stool as well as difficult to control diabetes. The diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis is made by a combination of clinical symptoms and imaging studies such as abdominal CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and/or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Pancreatitis?
If you are experiencing severe abdominal pain, call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room. The doctor will take a medical history, perform a physical examination, and draw blood to tests for pancreatic enzymes (amylase and lipase). An ultrasound of the abdomen may be performed to exclude the presence of gallstones. Other abdominal imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI may also be performed. Endoscopic procedures such as ERCP or EUS may also be warranted in some patients.