Digestive Disorders / Gastroenterology Expert Forum
Pancreatitis in Pregnancy
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Pancreatitis in Pregnancy

I delivered twins by C-section at 33 1/2 weeks after being admitted into the hospital with severe stomach pain and vomiting.  I was diagnosed with pancreatitis and was in ICU for 2 weeks.  My condition worsened and I eventually was given a blood transfusion which ultimately saved my life.  

Medical history:  (1) Crohn's disease diagnosed in 1992 and 3 feet of small intestine removed in Dec. 1995 after repeated bowel obstructions.  I have been asymptomatic since Dec. 1995 and have required no medications.  I've had 2 follow up colonoscopies in the last 8 years; both showed no signs of Crohns.  (2) I had my gallbladder removed two months prior to becoming pregnant (gallbladder removed March 26th, 2003, pregnant by in vitro fertilization May 21st).  (3) Two weeks prior to my C-section, I was diagnosed with a liver problem that caused severe itching and I was treated with steroids and other meds.  (4) I continued taking my anti-depressants during my pregnancy (20 mg. Prozac and 200 mg. Wellbutrin).  I had been on those meds since 1999.  I do not drink, smoke or take any drugs other than the anti-depressants.  

I have tried to research pancreatitis during pregnancy to determine if it was something I did (eating habits, exercise, etc.) that caused the pancreatitis, but I am getting no answers.  Can you help explain the disease and give an opinion as to why I may have gotten it based on the information provided?  

Thank you!
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Acute pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the pancreas and is associated with sudden onset of severe abdominal pain. It usually develops as a result of passage of gallstones through the common bile duct or after regular consumption of alcohol for a number of years. Several additional causes of acute pancreatitis have been described due to a variety of drugs, genetic diseases, and other types of injury to the pancreas.

Most common causes are alcohol and gallstones.  I am not aware of a direct connection bewteen acute pancreatitis and pregnancy.  Up to 1/3 of cases have no clear cause.  

One consideration is that pregnancy increases the risk of gallstones.  It is possible that this increased risk lead to gallstone formation with subsequent pancreatitis as a complication.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Thanks,
Kevin, M.D.

Bibliography:
Chari et al.  Patient information: Acute pancreatitis.  UptoDate, 2004.
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