The pancreas is a long, flat, pear-shaped organ located behind the stomach. It makes digestive enzymes and hormones, including insulin. Acute pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that occurs suddenly and resolves with proper treatment.

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Pancreatitis
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Pancreatitis occurs when digestive enzymes are activated in the pancreas instead of the small intestine. Acute pancreatitis has several causes. In some cases, the cause may be unknown.

Known causes of acute pancreatitis include

  • Obstruction of the pancreatic duct from:
    • Gallstones
    • Cancer
    • Diseases of the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine, where the pancreas empties
  • Alcohol
  • Surgery or trauma to the pancreas
  • Certain medications, such as those that treat cancer
  • Ischemia—insufficient blood supply to the pancreas
  • Complications of having endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography