MV Apte, MBBS, MMedSci, PhD, Pancreatic Research Group, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, AUS.
RC Pirola, MD, FRACP, Pancreatic Research Group, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, AUS.
JS Wilson, MD, FRACP, FRCP, Pancreatic Research Group, The University of New South Wales, Sydney,
AUS.Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) has both acute and chronic manifestations. Gallstones are the predominant cause of acute pancreatitis in older adults, while chronic pancreatitis is usually due to alcohol abuse (although an idiopathic, late-onset form of chronic pancreatitis is also recognized). The majority of cases of acute pancreatitis are mild and self-limiting, and supportive therapy is usually sufficient. Increasing age is a known risk factor for the development of severe acute pancreatitis. In contrast to the reversible nature of acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis is characterized by progressive loss of pancreatic structure and function. Management of chronic pancreatitis involves treatment of pain, maldigestion, and diabetes. The most serious complication of chronic pancreatitis is pancreatic cancer; the risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with increasing age.
Key words: acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic pain, maldigestion.