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In-Hospital Care for Acute Pancreatitis

If you have acute pancreatitis, your NYU Langone doctor may admit you to the hospital to bring symptoms under control and prevent the condition from progressing. Acute pancreatitis can sometimes be life threatening. If diagnostic tests show that the condition is severe, you may be admitted to the intensive care unit.

The length of your hospital stay depends on the severity of the condition. Some people may stay for just a few days, while others may stay for as long as several months if continued monitoring is necessary or surgery is required.

Food and Liquid

While in the hospital, you may be given intravenous (IV) fluids for rehydration and replacement of key electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

In order for the pancreas to heal it needs to rest, and the best way to do that is to avoid solid food. Your doctor may insert a nasogastric tube through the nose or mouth and into the stomach to deliver liquid nutrients. This may also help to relieve nausea and vomiting, two common symptoms of acute pancreatitis. 

Your doctor assesses your progress with periodic blood tests and CT scans. Once tests show that the pancreas is recovering, your doctor allows you to resume eating by mouth, starting with clear liquids and eventually a low-fat diet of solid foods. 

Most people can begin to eat solid food within weeks or months of hospital admission. Recovery time depends on the severity of the disease. 

Your doctor provides instructions on foods to eat and avoid when you leave the hospital.


Pancreatitis may cause severe pain in the abdomen or back. Your doctor may provide pain medication during a hospital stay to alleviate the discomfort. He or she may also prescribe pancreatic enzyme supplements to improve digestion. 

If the pancreas shows extensive tissue damage, or if pancreatic or surrounding tissues become infected, your doctor may administer intravenous antibiotics to counter the infection. Antibiotics are medications used to treat bacterial infections.

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