The pancreas is a long, flat organ located behind the stomach. It creates enzymes that help digest food as well as hormones, like insulin, that help control blood sugar.
Acute pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that occurs suddenly.
The most common cause of pancreatitis in children is trauma to the abdomen.
Other causes include:
Sometimes the cause of acute pancreatitis in children is unknown.
Factors that may increase your child’s risk of acute pancreatitis include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Blood will be taken for testing as well.
Images may be taken of your child’s bodily structures. This can be done with:
Pancreatitis may resolve on its own. Supportive care may be needed if your child has frequent vomiting and poor appetite. To replace fluids and provide nutrition, your child’s doctor may advise:
Your child may also be given supplemental oxygen.
If your child’s condition does not improve on its own or is severe, your child’s doctor will talk to you about a treatment plan. Options include:
Your child’s doctor may advise dietary change and plenty of fluids to promote healing of the pancreas.
Your child’s doctor may advise the following medication:
Talk to your child’s doctor about the medications that your child takes. Certain medications may need to be stopped or changed if they are the cause of the acute pancreatitis.
Surgery may be needed if your child has complications, such as bleeding, infection, or uncontrolled pain.
Another complication is the formation of cysts and pseudocysts. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs in or on the pancreas. A pseudocyst contains enzymes or semi-solid material that form in spaces inside the pancreas. Cysts and pseudocysts may cause pain, nausea, vomiting, or become infected. Treatment may include:
If your child has very high triglycerides or other known causes of pancreatitis, talk to their doctor about treatment options to help reduce the chance of pancreatitis.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Nemours Kid's Health
Sick Kids—The Hospital for Sick Children
Acute pancreatitis in children. The National Pancreas Foundation website. Available at: http://pancreasfoundation.org/patient-information/childrenpediatric-pancreatitis/acute-pancreatitis-in-children. Accessed December 28, 2015.
Acute pancreatitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T127664/Acute-pancreatitis. Updated April 24, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
Pancreatic cysts and pseudocysts. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Pancreatitis/hic-pancreatic-cysts-and-pseudocysts. Updated April 24, 2014. Accessed December 28, 2015.
Pancreatitis. Johns Hopkins Children’s Center website. Available at: http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/Pancreatitis.aspx. Accessed December 28, 2015.
Pancreatitis. Nemours Kid's Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/endocrine/pancreatitis.html. Updated April 2014. Accessed December 28, 2015.
Pancreatitis in children. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/pancreatitis. Accessed December 28, 2015.
Uretsky G, Goldschmiedt M, James K. Childhood pancreatitis. Am Fam Physician. 1999;59(9):2507-2512.
8/28/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T127664/Acute-pancreatitis: Johnson CD, Besselink MG, Carter R. Acute pancreatitis. BMJ. 2014;349:g4859.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.