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Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of acute pancreatitis

Santhi Swaroop Vege, MD
Section Editor
David C Whitcomb, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Shilpa Grover, MD, MPH, AGAF


Acute pancreatitis is an acute inflammatory process of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis should be suspected in patients with severe acute upper abdominal pain but requires biochemical or radiologic evidence to establish the diagnosis.

This topic will review the clinical manifestations and diagnosis of acute pancreatitis. The etiology, pathogenesis, assessment of severity, and management of acute pancreatitis are discussed separately. (See "Etiology of acute pancreatitis" and "Pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis" and "Predicting the severity of acute pancreatitis" and "Management of acute pancreatitis".)


Acute pancreatitis is divided into the following:

Mild acute pancreatitis, which is characterized by the absence of organ failure and local or systemic complications

Moderately severe acute pancreatitis, which is characterized by transient organ failure (resolves within 48 hours) and/or local or systemic complications without persistent organ failure (>48 hours)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 31, 2017.
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