Gallstone Disease and Acute Pancreatitis (Pancreatic Inflammation)

By Dr. Manish Baijal in Laparoscopic / Minimal Access Surgery

Sep 20 , 2021 | 1 min read

Fear is a fundamental force that often leads to incorrect decisions more so when the concerns are medical issues, this is further compounded if a surgical procedure is involved. Since knowledge alone allays fear my aim here is to clarify basic facts regarding Gallstone disease and associated acute pancreatitis.

When faced with a diagnosis of gallstones most panic and try to opt for medical therapy, however undisputedly the singular treatment modality is a surgical one and no other. Delaying surgery can lead to adverse complications, one of the more common ones being inflammation of the pancreas. As high as 40% of acute pancreatitis results due to gallstones.

The rationale is simple the bile duct from the gall bladder and the pancreatic duct from the pancreas both open into the small intestine adjoining each other. The stones from the gallbladder slowly move into the small intestine and here they tend to block the opening of the duct of the pancreas situated close by, smaller the stone greater the chance of blockage.

The pancreas is an organ producing insulin and digestive juices, when blockage of a duct due to stone occurs there is pressure build-up and backflow of enzymes into the organ causing irritation of cells resulting in inflammation and swelling. This is termed gallstone pancreatitis and it presents with excruciating belly pain, fever, nausea, and even jaundice. If untreated can cause grave complications and possibly be life-threatening. The treatment involves mandatory and prolonged hospitalization, the possibility of intensive care, and procedural intervention like endoscopy

Untreated gallstones are a disaster waiting to happen however they can easily be treated by a simple laparoscopic surgery to remove the gallbladder. It is a daycare procedure where you are back on your feet in a few hours and all going well discharged the next day. It would indeed be penny-wise pound-foolish to defer surgery because the financial burden of treatment of gallstone pancreatic inflammation would far exceed that of a simple surgery for gallstone. To add to it the increased physical distress and anguish the patient would suffer if untreated gallstones progressed to cause acute pancreatitis.

Awareness goes a long way in making the correct choice I hope this blog helps you in making the right one.