The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Acute Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a term used to described inflammation in the pancreas gland.  You may hear a variety of terms for this condition:- Acute or chronic.  This is mainly described on the duration of the attacks. Some people will have this condition for days, weeks and maybe months, known as Acute Pancreatitis.  Other people may suffer with this long term months to years: - Chronic pancreatitis.

02 acute pancreatitis

Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is characterised by upper abdominal pain which often goes through to the back. The main causes, in western society, of acute pancreatitis are: gallstones, alcohol and smoking.


The mainstay of treatment is to closely observe, administer pain relief as required and monitor the diet and fluids that are tolerated during the attack of acute pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can feel like a roller coaster ride causing ups and downs during the recovering phase and complications during this attack may develop.

Very occasionally, an operation or “telescopic” procedure is required. Often this is once the acute attack has settled down. Investigations such as an ultrasound may be necessary to find out why there has been an acute pancreatitis attack. It is recommended that the cause of the pancreatitis is treated to reduced the chances of future acute pancreatitis attacks occurring.  Most commonly this may involve having your gallbladder removed or avoiding alcohol and/or smoking.

In about 1:5 patients no trigger for the attack can be found. Acute pancreatitis is classified as “mild” or “severe” and can kill 1 in 10 people who get the disease. Leeds is actively involved in clinical trials to attempt to reduce the number of patients who get severe attacks.

Symptoms: - Abdominal pain, vomiting, feeling sick.

06 causes of pancreatitis gallstones


Acute pancreatitis is more common in middle-aged and elderly people, but it can affect people of any age. Men are more likely to develop alcohol-related pancreatitis, while women are more likely to develop it as a result of gallstones.