Can acute pancreatitis have any complications?

Acute pancreatitis is a serious, life-threatening condition that can develop complications. The damaged pancreas may release toxins into the bloodstream, which will damage other organs. The damage pancreas may bleed into the abdominal cavity, causing a significant drop in blood pressure as blood leaks into the abdominal cavity. Pseudocysts may form and rupture in the pancreas, which can lead to death. Individuals with acute pancreatitis are at greater risk from an infection. Other complications are diabetes, problems breathing, kidney failure, cancer of the pancreas, and poor nutrition.

Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
Acute pancreatitis can result in multiple complications. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can occur from a variety of causes such as gallstones, alcohol, high triglycerides, medications, infections, and injury.

Some people recover without any problems, however others may have some of the following:

•    Trouble with breathing due to inflammation of the lungs
•    Diabetes as a result of damage to the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin
•    Kidney failure
•    Loss of nutrition
•    Overwhelming infection
•    Development of a pseudocyst, which is a pocket of fluid and debris that develops inside the pancreas.

Pancreatitis almost always warrants hospitalization with treatment aimed at finding and (when possible) eliminating the cause of the inflammation and helping to avoid complications.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.