2021 May 18. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–.
Alcohol use syndrome is one of the most common causes of both acute and chronic pancreatitis.
Acute pancreatitis (AP) is a necro-inflammatory disease resulting from exocrine cell destruction by infiltrating inflammatory cells. The diagnostic criteria are typically when a patient presents with characteristic symptoms, elevated lipase levels, and distinct imaging findings. Treatment is mostly supportive as there is no specific pharmacotherapy for this disease. Acute pancreatitis will either resolve with the pancreas fully regenerating, lead to transient organ failure, or progress to cause systemic inflammation and multi-organ failure. In these severe cases, treatment may require antibiotics and more invasive therapies.
Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is believed to result from recurrent attacks of acute pancreatitis, leading to the development of pancreatic insufficiency, steatorrhea, diabetes, pancreatic calcification, and fibrosis. While alcohol and its by-products alone do not directly cause this disease, they can predispose the pancreas to damage from otherwise benign agents. As a result, one of the main strategies to prevent recurrent attacks involve providing alcohol (and smoking) cessation counseling and strategies to patients.