Pathophysiology and nursing management of acute pancreatitis
Intended for healthcare professionals

Pathophysiology and nursing management of acute pancreatitis

Carolyn Johnstone Lecturer in nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland

Why you should read this article:
  • » To enhance your knowledge of the pathophysiology, causes and potential complications of acute pancreatitis

  • » To understand the principles of clinical assessment and appropriate management interventions for patients with acute pancreatitis

  • » To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • » To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

Acute pancreatitis is a potentially life-threatening condition primarily associated with gallstones or prolonged and excessive alcohol intake. Although the initial triggers of the condition can vary, the resulting pathophysiology is broadly similar irrespective of the cause. This article explores the pathophysiology of the main causes of acute pancreatitis, and discusses nursing management of the condition in the acute setting and the long-term issues to consider. It also outlines the conservative management of the condition, which includes pain management, provision of fluids and nutritional care. In the management of acute pancreatitis, nursing care can often overlap with medical management, especially as the condition deteriorates. Therefore, it is important that nurses develop comprehensive knowledge of the management of acute pancreatitis.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11179


Johnstone C (2018) Pathophysiology and nursing management of acute pancreatitis. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11179

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Published online: 28 June 2018

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