Pancreatitis Symptoms

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure used to diagnose and treat conditions that affect a patient’s bile and pancreatic ducts. While it can be a useful procedure, it may also cause severe side effects. One of the most common dangerous side effects is pancreatitis after ERCP. If left untreated, severe cases of pancreatitis after ERCP can be fatal. Doctors and patients should be aware of pancreatitis symptoms after ERCP in order to immediately diagnose and treat the condition.

Early Pancreatitis Symptoms

One of the primary pancreatitis symptoms is abdominal pain. Typically, this pain occurs in the upper or middle abdominal area. In more severe cases, the pain may radiate to the back or below the patient’s left shoulder blade. Pain may worsen when the patient lays flat on his or her back. Pain may also worsen after eating, drinking, or touching the abdomen. Foods with high fat content may cause heightened pain, as the pancreas plays a role in fat digestion.

Other pancreatitis symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hiccups and indigestion
  • Swollen or distended abdomen
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased respiratory and heart rate
  • Unexplained sweating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes

Diagnosis of Pancreatitis Symptoms

When under the care of a medical professional, a series of laboratory tests may be performed to diagnose pancreatitis symptoms. The primary tests given in response to pancreatitis symptoms are measurements of pancreatic enzymes, or enzymes released from the pancreas. Additionally, medical professionals may perform blood tests or imaging tests to show potential inflammation of the patient’s pancreas.

Lab Tests for Pancreatitis

Laboratory testing for pancreatitis symptoms may include:

  • Comprehensive metabolic panel. This blood test can confirm pancreatitis symptoms as they relate to the function of other organs such as the liver and kidneys.
  • Complete blood count, or CBC. CBCs can reveal an increase in white blood cells. These pancreatitis symptoms occur when the body attempts to fight pancreatitis.
  • Abdominal CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound. These tests can be used to provide imaging of the patient’s abdominal region and pancreas to reveal inflammation and other abnormalities that caused the patient’s pancreatitis symptoms.

Seeking Medical Attention

Even if the patient experiences mild pancreatitis symptoms such as minor abdominal pain after an ERCP procedure, the patient should speak with his or her doctor or otherwise seek immediate medical attention. In severe cases of pancreatitis after ERCP, the patient may require hospitalization for 10 days or more.

To avoid progression into severe states, doctors who perform the ERCP procedure should monitor patients to ensure that pancreatitis after ERCP has not developed. Most pancreatitis symptoms become present within a few hours after an ERCP procedure. However, pancreatitis symptoms may not adequately illustrate the severity of the patient’s condition.


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“Pancreatitis.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Web. 26 Jun 2013. <>.

“Pancreatitis.” University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland. Web. 26 Jun 2013. <>.

“What Is ERCP?” Department of Medicine: Gastroenterology. Washington University School of Medicine. Web. 26 Jun 2013. < is ERCP.html>.