How is pancreatitis diagnosed?
The symptoms of pancreatitis are similar to those of other diseases affecting the pancreas. In fact, as many as 20 to 40 percent of people with pancreatitis are initially misdiagnosed with intestinal disorders or even pancreatic cancer.
The disease is diagnosed using a physical examination, a medical history, and specific tests. A medical record, including family history, may be done to rule out other diseases and detect congenital cases of pancreatitis and bile duct problems. A physical exam is then made to detect the signs mentioned above and others.
The doctor may ask for blood, urine, and stool tests to confirm their findings on the physical exam. Blood tests may check for abnormal enzymes called transaminases, serum lipase, and amylase. These enzymes released from the damaged liver and pancreatic cells circulate through the blood and appear in different places depending on the organs they damage. Urine and stool tests may check for enzymes released when pancreatic juice spills into the blood.