Merck Manual

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Overview of Pancreatitis

By

Michael Bartel

, MD, PhD, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple University

Last full review/revision Mar 2022| Content last modified Mar 2022
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Pancreatitis is classified as either acute or chronic.

Chronic pancreatitis Chronic Pancreatitis Chronic pancreatitis is persistent inflammation of the pancreas that results in permanent structural damage with fibrosis and ductal strictures, followed by a decline in exocrine and endocrine... read more is characterized by histologic changes that are irreversible and progressive and that result in considerable loss of exocrine and endocrine pancreatic function. Patients with chronic pancreatitis may have a flare-up of acute disease.

Pancreatitis can affect both the exocrine and endocrine functions of the pancreas. Pancreatic cells secrete bicarbonate and digestive enzymes into ducts that connect the pancreas to the duodenum at the ampulla of Vater (exocrine function). Pancreatic beta cells secrete insulin directly into the bloodstream (endocrine function).

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