Pediatric Pancreatitis

Pediatric Pancreatitis

It’s a familiar scene: Your child wakes up in the middle of the night feeling feverish, nauseated, and experiencing a stomach pains. Then come the tears, the vomiting, and the inability to keep fluids down. Normally, these symptoms add up to absolutely nothing more than a 24-hour stomach bug.

But often there’s a various cause. The symptoms of pancreatitis (a swelling of the pancreas) can sometimes look like a stomach infection.

Pancreatitis typically disappears rapidly, with no irreversible damage to the pancreas. But it’s important to recognize the symptoms early to reduce the risk of complications. A child might need treatment or dietary changes for a short while.

Cases of straightforward intense pancreatitis typically deal with within 2-4 days. The management of acute pancreatitis is predominately encouraging medical therapy, with intravenous hydration, pain control, and bowel rest. Parenteral nutrition may be required for extended episodes.

About Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a swelling of the pancreas, a big gland behind the stomach that produces digestion juices, or enzymes, that assistance break down food in the upper portion of the duodenum (small intestine). The pancreas also is accountable for producing insulin and glucagon, two hormones that help control levels of blood sugar level, the body’s main energy source.

When the pancreas is working typically, the enzymes it produces do not become active until they reach the duodenum. However when the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes end up being activated early on (while still in the pancreas) and start assaulting internal structures. Tissues within the pancreas that produce enzymes are damaged, cannot produce brand-new enzymes. Over time, this tissue damage can end up being permanent.

Types of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis can be acute (long lasting for a few days) or chronic (recurring). Severe pancreatitis develops suddenly, while chronic pancreatitis establishes gradually and keeps returning. Though unusual in children, chronic pancreatitis is normally acquired.

Kids typically get the acute form of the condition, which can develop idiopathically (with no known cause) or in action to a viral infection or medication. Severe pancreatitis can result from distressing injury to the abdomen, cystic fibrosis, or from excess fat in the blood (hyperlipidemia).

Pediatric Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis or a Stomach Bug?

The primary difference in between pancreatitis and a stomach infection or other digestive system health problem is the severity of abdominal pain. Kids with acute pancreatitis will have severe pain in the upper abdomen that makes it challenging for them to stand or sit upright, and they’ll most likely sit or depend on the fetal position to obtain more comfy. After the first 2 days, the pain generally heightens.

Other signs include:

  • persistent vomiting, which increases after the first 2 days of illness
  • loss of appetite
  • when able to eat, failure to keep food down
  • vomit that is yellowish, greenish, or brownish
  • jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin)
  • fever
  • in many cases, back pain or left shoulder pain

Short-term symptoms can consist of dehydration and low blood pressure.

Medical diagnosis

If a doctor suspects pancreatitis, the primary step is to perform blood tests, like an amylase test or lipase test, to see whether the enzymes made by the pancreas are at typical working levels. If they rise, the doctor may order an abdominal ultrasound to check for swelling, blockages, or stones in the pancreatic duct that results in the first part of the duodenum, and other abnormalities.

Sometimes, the doctor might purchase an abdominal computed tomography scan (CT) scan, which uses X-rays and computer technology to produce comprehensive images of the body’s internal organs, to help validate a diagnosis of pancreatitis.

During the initial see, the doctor might ask you to explain the color and type of your child’s vomit. If it consists of a good deal of bile (greenish digestion juices from the liver), the doctor might wish to additional examine your child for pancreas or liver problems.

Treatment for Pancreatitis

In most cases, pancreatitis gets better by itself. In some cases, the doctor will recommend putting your child on a low-fat diet with a lot of fluids. This is less most likely to irritate the pancreas and helps it to recover much faster.

Kids with a more severe case of pancreatitis who end up being dehydrated may need a brief stay in the medical facility. Treatment involves resting the pancreas by not consuming or drinking, and getting intravenous (IV) fluids and pain medication. Other medications might help to decrease the amount of acid in the body. For some kids, this is enough and they can go home after a couple of days of treatment.

Other kids may require extra treatment with special IV fluids called overall parenteral nutrition (TPN). TPN treatment bypasses the typical gastrointestinal process to supply the required nutrients of salt, glucose, amino acids, lipids, and vitamins.

Another technique is the placement of a soft plastic feeding tube called a naso-jejunal (NJ) tube. This tube is assisted through the nose and winds up in the small intestine, where it delivers nutrition without stimulating the pancreas. Local anesthesia is used for this procedure, so a child will experience only small discomfort.

As soon as home, the majority of kids are placed on a low-fat diet to assist heal the pancreas, which they must follow up until their enzyme levels are back to regular. A follow-up blood test will most likely be done to verify regular enzyme levels.


Luckily, most kids who establish pancreatitis overcome it rapidly– in as little as 4 or 5 days– with few or no complications.

In the not likely case that a child establishes a reoccurrence or complications such as cysts, bleeding, infection, or relentless pain, extra tests or surgery may be had to dismiss other conditions.

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