Pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the pancreas. This is a leaf shaped gland that is present behind the stomach and secretes enzymes that can digest starches, protein and fats. The pancreas also contains cells that secrete insulin. The duct of this gland joins the lower common bile duct and opens into the duodenum (small intestine) via a common orifice (Sphincter of Odi).
Pancreatitis results from two major causes: Gallstones or Alcohol use. Other causes include increased blood fats (triglycerides) or peptic ulcers.
Patients who have gallstones may pass small stones through the common bile duct and this may causes transient obstruction to the pancreatic duct resulting in pancreatitis.
Patients with Chronic alcohol use develop chronic pancreatitis.