Acute Pancreatitis Attack - time to recovery and healing

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My wife recently had an acute pancreatitis attack -

  • upon admission her Lipase level was >20000 and WBC was 20,000 as well.
  • Over the next 6 days, Lipase levels came back down to 250 (day#1 17000, day#2 13000, day#3 8000, day#4 3500, day#5 300), and WBC count came down to 11,000 with similar progression.
  • Her CT scan at the time of admission indicated a small gallstone (1mm) in the pancreatic duct. Doctors prepared for an ERCP to remove the gallstone, but decided to do an MRI first. The MRI did not indicate presence of gallstone anymore, doctors said it may have cleared on it's own, so no ERCP was done.
  • Has slight elevated temperature between 99 - 100.6 degrees F.
  • MRI also did not indicate any necrosis.
  • Had massive abdominal pain at time of admission - doctors put on on strong opiod painkillers every 2 hours for first day after admission. After first day, they started reducing the dosage to half of what was originally administered, and are administering it after 4 hours.

It has been 6 days now, and her pain is still coming back every 3-4 hours. After 4.5 hours she starts screaming out of pain.

Has anyone had a similar experience with pancreatitis? What is the typical recovery and healing timeline for this situation. Also, is it worrisome that the pain has not really subsided after 6 days? Could you please share your thoughts.

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    hello samwise,...i had a similar experience with Pancreatitis, but not quite as severe as your wife. my episode was in May, 2017 admitted via ER for 5 days. it started with the worst pain i ever felt across the middle of my abdomen. After trying everything I knew it was not my usual gallbladder attacks that i had been suffering with since 2013.

    anyway, they started me on dilaudid and it barely took the edge off of that horrible pain. they kept me on nothing by mouth(including fluids) until my last day in there when my Lipase finally went back down to almost normal.

    to try and summarize, i was referred to the same surgeon three years in a row by my GI specialist, but he denied my gallbladder surgery every time just saying that he could not guarantee that my pain would stop. by january of 2019, my GI was puzzled at why i was still having gallbladder attacks since he had already referred me ti have it removed. he was livid when he found out the surgeon had never done it! so he sent me to a different doc and by the end of that month my gallstone infested gallbladder was OUT!

    i had instant relief and i have been pain free gor well over a year now! i did ask my surgeon IF i had any gallstones and he said OH YES. i then asked how many and he said ONE IS TOO MANY, but mine was full of both the green kind and the black kind.

    needless to say i am happy now but furious that i had to suffer unnecessarily all of those years. then both docs told me that once you have had pancreatitis, you automatically meet surgical criteria.

    i hope your wife is doing better now but dont hesitate to ask me anything anytime.

    Susanne, 54

    Nashville, Tennessee

    • Posted

      Hi Susanne,

      Sorry to hear about your experience. It is very difficult (and a matter of luck) to find a good doctor/surgeon these days. Glad that they were finally able to fix the root cause of the problem and prevent further attacks. As for my wife, she will start day 8 tomorrow. Her pain seems to be very slowly getting better, and her appetite is also coming back. I'm cautiously optimistic that she is on the way to recovery. Thank you for your response.


    • Posted

      im glad that she seems to be improving but i sure do feel for her(and you:). take care!

  • Edited

    Hi, yes I would def say you need to go back and see a specialist, and not wait any longer, she needs to be seen right away and also another ct scan with contrast. .There can be several reason for these attacks,and some other then gallstones and stones can also be in the bile duct as well. She def needs to be at the specialist office and needs some answers. If her pain continues and she doesn't have any more pain meds she needs to go back to the ER , and also a follow up with a very good specialist. Is she still in the hospital ? and if so why are they not doing more to find out the cause of the attack. If she is at home I would take her back to the ER. And demand answers, The ER is not a nice place any more and all they do is get you out the door as soon as they can. It is very sad. So you have to be demanding and ask for results. Not mean, just not ok with no answers. If she is at home try to make sure she remains hydrated and if she cant eat try to get the Max protein ensure in her if doc oks it. It can take some time for the pancreas to simmer down, but you also need answers and they should be telling you how long and why. THe temp may indicate an infection in the pancreas or other organ such as gall bladder.


    Pancreatitis may start suddenly and last for days, or it can occur over many years. It has many causes, including gallstones and chronic, heavy alcohol use.

    Symptoms include upper abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

    Treatment usually requires hospitalization. Once they stabilize the patient, doctors treat the underlying cause.

  • Edited

    Hi yonder01,

    Thank you for your response. As I indicated earlier, she is still in the hospital (day # 8 tomorrow). I believe the doctors ticked all the boxes to diagnose the condition (monitoring lipase, WBC etc., CT Scan, MRI) etc. They did a stool sample and said there is no infection. Her fever is also 99.5-100.5 so not shooting up too much. They also confirmed that they did not see any necrosis or other complications in the MRI. At this point, the only thing I'm wondering is - does it take this long (>8 days) to heal?


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