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"Can accute pancreatitis cause death?"


Yesterday my girlfriend was sick with nausea and vomiting, and eventually it got so bad we went to the hospital. The doctors just diagnosed her with acute pancreatitis, so I have several questions. Could this have killed her? How will they treat it now? How do we make sure it doesn't happen again?


Acute pancreatitis is a very serious illness. It has many possible causes, but the two most common are high alcohol use, and a gall bladder stone that lodges in the pancreatic duct. Your girlfriend's prognosis depends on multiple different factors and without seeing her case, I cannot determine the likelihood of her getting worse or better.

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Let me explain. Pancreatitis is an acute inflammation of the pancreas. The severity of it can vary widely. It is true that very severe cases of pancreatitis can be fatal. A physician named Ranson a while ago came up with a formula for determining the prognosis of a patient admitted to the hospital with acute pancreatitis. Just Google "Ranson's Criteria Calculator" and the first link will take you to a calculator. You just fill in the information (some of which are lab tests you'll have to get from the doctor) and you can see what her likelihood of survival. I should note that the calculator is purely for academic purposes and is rarely actually used in the hospital. Its just the best tool we have for answering your question. The most important thing to remember is that the reason for the pancreatitis needs to be determined and removed. So if your girlfriend has an alcohol problem, she needs to stop drinking. If she had a gall stone, she needs her gall bladder removed. Good luck.

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