Pancreatitis is an inflammation or swelling of the pancreas that can be caused by gallstones, alcohol abuse, certain medication or drugs, or even trauma. The inflammation may be sudden (acute) or ongoing (chronic). Acute pancreatitis usually involves a single "attack," after which the pancreas returns to normal. In chronic pancreatitis, permanent damage occurs to the pancreas, often leading to destruction of pancreatic tissue and increasing the risk of diabetes, pancreatic cysts and pancreatic cancer. Learn more about pancreatitis.
Most people with pancreatitis will not require surgery, but if they do, it is used to relieve symptoms and complications. These include infection, bleeding, blockage of pancreatic ducts, leakage of pancreatic fluid (sometimes called a fistula) or chronic pain. Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is one of the few medical centers in the Northeast with in-depth experience in pancreatitis surgery. Our board certified general and gastrointestinal surgeons offer traditional surgical options and the latest minimally invasive surgery techniques for pancreatitis, including islet cell transplantation and total pancreatectomy, the Whipple procedure (pancreatoduodenectomy) and endoscopic and laparoscopic pancreatic cyst drainage.
General and gastrointestinal surgeons at BWH offer a range of procedures for diagnosing pancreatitis:
Pancreatitis can often be treated with a few days in the hospital where you will receive intravenous fluids, medicines to relieve pain, and nutritional support. Non-surgical treatment options include:
When non-surgical treatment methods are not working and pancreatitis complications continue, BWH general and gastrointestinal surgeons offer extensive expertise in:
Our general and gastrointestinal surgeons offer the most advanced surgical approaches for patients with severe chronic pancreatitis:
You will receive a thorough diagnostic examination to evaluate if you have pancreatitis and determine and what course of treatment is needed. Careful monitoring and the involvement of an experienced general and gastrointestinal surgeon are important to the successful outcome for patients with pancreas conditions.
If you are having surgery or a procedure, you will likely be scheduled for a visit to the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation for pre-operative information and tests.
The day of surgery, you will be taken care of in the operating room by surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who specialize in surgery for patients with pancreatitis. After surgery, you will go to the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care by an experienced surgical and nursing staff.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, collaborating with colleagues who have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating pancreatitis. In addition, patients have full access to BWH’s world-renowned academic medical community with its diverse specialists and state-of-the-art facilities.
Go to our health library to learn more about pancreatitis.
Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center for Patients and Families to access computers and knowledgeable staff.
Visit the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation.
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