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AACN Adv Crit Care. 2010 Apr-Jun;21(2):195-204. doi: 10.1097/NCI.0b013e3181d94feb.

Pancreatitis: understanding the disease and implications for care.

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Medical-Surgical Unit, Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Graduate Student, DNP Program, Marquette University, 4336 Raymir Pl, Wauwatosa, WI 53222, USA.


Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, has a variety of etiologies. Severity of the disease can range from its mildest form, which resolves quickly with few complications, to its most severe form, necrotizing pancreatitis, which is associated with an increased risk for developing multiple system organ failure and mortality. Treatment of pancreatitis aims to eliminate the etiologic factors for the disease while managing its complications and preventing further disease progression. Patients with mild forms of pancreatitis may improve with symptom management, whereas those with more severe disease will need significant supportive interventions. Most patients are managed medically. Surgery may be indicated for severe pancreatitis. It is important to understand the disease process and its impact on other organ systems when caring for these patients. Accurate assessment of changes in the patient's condition can lead to interventions that can limit complications and reduce the risk of mortality. This article reviews the pathophysiology of pancreatitis, its diagnosis and treatment, associated complications and their management, and essential nursing assessment and interventions.

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