How Serious Is Pancreatitis?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

Ask the experts

I'm told that I may have a cyst on my pancreas. I'm wondering how serious is this? Last year I had a stone in my pancreas (which I finally passed). I still have the same kind of pain that I had from the stone, although not as bad, could this cyst be causing all this pain?

Doctor's response

Chronic pancreatic pain can be difficult to assess. Pancreatitis--the most common cause of cysts--itself may cause pain without additional complications. A cyst (actually a pseudo-cyst since the cyst is not lined by cells like a true cyst), blockage of the pancreatic duct by a pancreatic duct stone, and narrowing of the pancreatic or common bile duct due to scarring of the pancreas also may cause pain. Finally, pain also may be caused by recurrent gallstones, a common cause of pancreatitis.

Thus, although a cyst can cause pain in the pancreas, a full assessment is needed because there are other possible causes of pain.