In this section
Caring for children with pancreatitis
Learn how our Gastroenterology, Liver and Nutrition Program cares for children with pancreatitis.
Related tests and treatments:
Our approach to pancreatitis
As one of only a few pediatric programs in the nation that specializes in pancreatic and gallbladder disorders, the Pancreatic Disorders Program at Children’s Wisconsin is a destination for families seeking the best pancreatic care. Our hospital treats about 100 pancreatitis cases a year, including patients with acute pancreatitis, recurrent pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis. In chronic cases, we use the latest diagnostic methods to identify the underlying cause so that we can provide the best treatment possible and also offer comprehensive care when genetic causes are involved.
Our program is directed by Dr. Steven Werlin, an internationally known expert who has published more than 120 journal articles and over 55 book chapters on pediatric pancreatic disorders. Research is also a critical part of our mission, and we participate in multicenter studies to help the medical community better understand how to best treat pancreatitis and other pancreatic disorders.
Pancreatitis services we offer
Children’s Wisconsin offers full diagnostic and therapeutic services for evaluation and treatment of pancreatitis. Our pediatric gastroenterologists have deep experience treating acute and chronic cases, and our team is further supported by Children’s Wisconsin experts in:
- Diagnostic and interventional radiology
- Advanced endoscopy
- Chronic pain management
- Surgical services
Diagnosing and treating pancreatitis
If children are experiencing severe abdominal pain and vomiting, your doctor might suggest an abdominal ultrasound or other imaging test to screen for gallstones or another obstruction. Pancreatitis is diagnosed with a blood test: elevated levels of lipase and/or amylyse, two pancreatic enzymes, indicate that the pancreas is inflamed.
Acute pancreatitis is often over within a few days, and treatment includes pain management and fluid to prevent dehydration. If pancreatitis reoccurs or becomes chronic, then your child’s doctor will screen for potential underlying causes. Blood tests and stool tests are used to see how well your child is absorbing nutrients, and the doctor might use a pancreatic stimulation to screen for pancreatic insufficiency.
In some cases, doctors can fix the underlying problem, such as stretching a narrowed duct or removing the gallbladder. If chronic pancreatitis stems from a genetic cause, then your child might require other, lifelong measures, such as taking replacement pancreatic enzymes with meals to treat pancreatic insufficiency and optimize nutrition.