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Diagnosis Gastroenterology

Acute Pancreatitis

Your doctor will ask about your medical history, perform a physical exam and order blood tests to check for certain enzymes.

During acute attacks, the blood contains at least three times more than the normal amount of digestive enzymes formed in the pancreas. Changes may occur in blood levels of glucose, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and bicarbonate. After the pancreas recovers, these levels usually return to normal.

An abdominal ultrasound to look for gallstones and a computerized tomography (CT) scan to check for injury to the pancreas may be performed.

A procedure, called an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), may determine if there is a bile duct obstruction. During this procedure, a flexible tube is inserted down the throat into the stomach and small intestines. Dye is injected into the drainage tube of the pancreas to locate a possible obstruction.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.