Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis

What are acute and chronic pancreatitis?

The pancreas is responsible for secreting enzymes that help the body digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This organ also releases hormones to help the body use glucose (sugars). Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed.

Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and typically self-resolves within a few weeks to months. Chronic pancreatitis is less common in children and results from repetitive episodes of pancreatitis which can lead to destruction of the pancreas. There are many potential triggers of pancreatitis, including viral infections, stones that block the ducts that drain the pancreas (pancreatic ducts), anatomic abnormalities of the pancreatic ducts, and genetic factors.


Patients with hereditary pancreatitis will often experience symptoms at a young age. Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea or oily stools


At The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, children with acute and chronic pancreatitis are evaluated and treated by doctors in the Division of Gastroenterology (GI), Hepatology and Nutrition.

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