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Recurrent pancreatitis in the presence of a visceral artery aneurysm.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine


HIRSCHSPRUNG -E.qxd The pancreas is an organ inthe middle of the upper abdomen, close to the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum. It produces specialized proteins called enzymes that are important in the digestion of proteins, fats, and sugars. The pancreas also produces insulin and other hormones important in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Pancreatitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the pancreas. Causes of pancreatitis include gallstones and toxins such as excessive alcohol. In children, common causes include viruses and other infections, medications, congenital malfor- mations and other inherited conditions, and trauma to the abdomen. In 1 out of 4 childhood cases, a cause is never found. Inflammation of the pancreas is often associated with pain in the upper abdomen and/or the back which may develop slowly, be mild and of short duration, or be sudden in onset, more severe and longer lasting. Nausea and vomiting are very common, fever and jaundice may be present. When pancreatitis is suspected, laboratory tests search for higher than normal levels of some of the proteins produced by the pancreas, such as “amylase” and “lipase”. An abdominal ultrasound (sonogram) or a CAT scan (computer tomography) of the abdomen can help show the inflamma- tion and swelling of the pancreas and surrounding tissues. Once pancreatitis is diagnosed, other blood tests are done to search for a cause and to look for any complications due to the inflammation. Repeated inflammation of the pancreas is rare, but when it occurs it may lead to chronic problems with digestion, dia- betes, and recurrent or persistent pain. In these cases, additional specialized tests such as an ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) or MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) may be required. An ERCP consists of the passage of a narrow flexible tube with a camera and a light through the mouth down inside the small intestine to look at the bile duct and pancreatic duct. More

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