Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Pancreatitis diagnosis

1-minute read

Diagnosing acute pancreatitis can be difficult because the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis are similar to other medical conditions. The doctor will talk to you, examine you and take some blood tests. You may also be asked to have other tests such as an x-ray, an ultrasound, MRI or a CT scan to get a picture of how the pancreas looks, and whether or not there is an obvious cause.

Some people also have an ERCP or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, where a long tube is passed through your mouth into your gut. It can help diagnose pancreatitis and, if the cause is a gallstone, can remove the stone.

It can be more difficult to diagnose chronic pancreatitis because the symptoms can be more subtle, and can be so similar to other conditions. Also, some people have chronic pancreatitis with little or no pain.

Tests for chronic pancreatitis include those of acute pancreatitis, along with:

  • stool (poo) tests — to detect abnormal levels of fat (which would mean you’re not absorbing nutrients properly)
  • blood tests or scans to rule out pancreatic cancer

Sources:

UpToDate (Patient information: Acute pancreatitis (Beyond the basics)), UpToDate (Patient information: Chronic pancreatitis (Beyond the basics)), Mayo Clinic (Pancreatitis)

Last reviewed: September 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) - myDr.com.au

ERCP is an investigation used to view the gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas and pancreatic duct.

Read more on myDr website

Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) - myDr.com.au

MRCP is a technique for imaging the bile ducts and the pancreatic duct (and the gallbladder, pancreas and liver) using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). It can show gallstones, tumours, and inflammation.

Read more on myDr website

ERCP for pancreatic and biliary disease information | myVMC

ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) is a procedure for viewing from the mouth to the duodenum to diagnose pancreatic or billiary disease.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Childhood Pancreatic Cancer

Rare Cancers Australia is a charity whose purpose is to improve the lives and health outcomes of Australians living with a rare or less common cancer.

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Pancreatic Cancer

Rare Cancers Australia is a charity whose purpose is to improve the lives and health outcomes of Australians living with a rare or less common cancer.

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Gallstones: complications - myDr.com.au

Complications relating to gallstones include: inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), bile duct (cholangitis), and pancreas (biliary pancreatitis); and obstruction of the intestine (gallstone ileus).

Read more on myDr website

An introduction to endoscopy investigations information |myVMC

Endoscopy is a group of procedures, including colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, for viewing the internal body cavities using a camera on a long flexible tube.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Gallbladder - gallstones and surgery - Better Health Channel

Medical treatment for gallstones may not be necessary unless the gallstones cause symptoms.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Cholangiocarcinoma

Rare Cancers Australia is a charity whose purpose is to improve the lives and health outcomes of Australians living with a rare or less common cancer.

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Rare Cancers Australia - Directory - Extrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer

Rare Cancers Australia is a charity whose purpose is to improve the lives and health outcomes of Australians living with a rare or less common cancer.

Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo