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Pancreatitis - possible misdiagnosis?

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Old 02-16-2017, 06:14 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2017
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cardinal92 HB User
Pancreatitis - possible misdiagnosis?

Long story incoming:

So about 2 and a half years ago, when I was 22, I started feeling a sharp pain in my lower left abdomen. It was like nothing I'd ever felt before. Not in the intensity, just that it was... internal? It was new to me. Note: This was after I spent a week drinking heavily in Vegas. After a couple of months, it didn't go away and I started feeling pain in other parts of my abdomen. I started getting it checked out. Got the blood work rounds, x-rays, ultrasounds and finally a CT in March 2015. They found a few concerning blood levels, including elevated lipase, but nothing was found in the scans. The pain continued.

Flash forward to December 2016. The pain begins emanating from my upper right area, sometimes from the front, sometimes from the back, sometimes from the side, etc. A couple of months pass and I start getting diarrhea every time I eat anything solid. I start doing the rounds of testing again. Blood test reveals elevated pancreatic and liver enzymes. I go to the ER to try and get a scan done as quickly as possible. After sitting there for 10 hours, they do the same round of bloodwork and the doctor tells me it's probably pancreatitis and sends me to get an ultrasound in the morning.

The ultrasound comes in and the ER doctor (who spends maybe 2 minutes with me in total) says I have pancreatitis, tells me to quit drinking and go on a liquid diet, and to follow up with my family doctor. So I've been doing this liquid diet for a few days and nothing seems to be improving. The pain has actually gotten worse, and I've lost so much energy from being hungry and tired all the time.

So I went back to my family doctor and she tells me the ultrasound couldn't actually get any images of my pancreas (despite the ER guy saying they found "inflammation" on my pancreas with the ultrasound, hence the pancreatitis diagnosis) and they want me to get a CT scan and see a specialist.

So now here I am, worrying my guts out, in more pain than ever before, waiting for a CT scan referral that's probably going to put me on a queue of multiple months.

My questions are-

1. How likely is it that it's pancreatic cancer as opposed to pancreatitis? Remember I'm 25 and this has been going on since I was 22. I'm not a heavy drinker. I didn't drink at all between late 2014 and early 2016. From say February 2016 to February 2017 I drank maybe twice a week, 4-5 mixed drinks a session. I don't believe there's much history of pancreatic disorders in my family.
2. As I said earlier, this has been an ongoing issue for over 2 years, so the first ER doctor's theory that it's simply "mild acute pancreatitis" seems to be unlikely to me. The CT scan in 2015 didn't reveal anything, but the pain was definitely still there (nowhere near as severe and not in the same place, however). Is there any chance it's something less severe than chronic pancreatitis?
3. What should I do?

Last edited by cardinal92; 02-16-2017 at 06:16 PM.

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Old 03-06-2017, 05:54 PM   #2
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rose4me HB Userrose4me HB User
Re: Pancreatitis - possible misdiagnosis?

Hello - I hope you are feeling better - In regards to your query about a pancreatic cancer diagnosis versus a pancreatitis diagnosis ... The best thing you can do for yourself at this point is to reduce stress (worry less) and address your lifestyle choices. Particularly alcohol consumption. While alcohol induced pancreatitis accounts for roughly 4% of diagnosed cases, it still can be a direct cause - especially if you have the genetic disposition for pancreatitis caused by alcohol. It is quite natural to believe that one diagnosis is preferred over the other and few ER physicians have a detailed working knowledge of either. Their approach is much more generalized and they often make statements regarding their 'findings' that should be explored further, rather than taken at face value. Take heart though, if you persist on being seen and especially if your symptoms change suddenly, as in excruciating abdominal pain, dark urine, dark or clay colored stools and jaundice of any sort - seek immediate medical help and be the squeaky wheel. Sometimes being a voice in an ER room, instead of an echo is how you will get your answers , attention and the help you seek. Pancreatitis is not a preferred diagnosis actually, as it can be quite deadly and often is. If you have been advised to abstain from alcohol, no amount of deliberation will make it better for you to just have a little drink every now and then. Your body evidently has an objection to this particular form of relaxation. Mind over matter here is important - If you ever suffer from an extreme acute pancreatic episode and survive, drinking will be the very last thing you will want to consider - I would think. As it has been the case for myself. It is best to face this tough challenge early and head on, than to talk yourself out of it, and ignore the warnings. In my case of severe acute pancreatitis - a gall stone that had become lodged in the pancreatic bile duct was the culprit. Two weeks in the hospital and gall bladder surgery. I am better, but forever changed because of it. Best of everything for you.

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