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Digestive Disease Center

Promoting digestive health through excellence in clinical care, research and education.
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Diseases of the
Pancreas and Biliary Tree

Visit our Pancreas page.


Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes swollen and inflamed, and does not work properly. Enzymes which the pancreas normally produces to help digestion can attack the pancreas itself. Two common types of pancreatitis are acute and chronic. Read more

Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is usually a sudden and severe illness when the pancreas rapidly becomes inflamed. Pancreas enzymes and various poisons (toxins) may enter the blood stream in an acute attack, and injure other organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. Read more


Cholangitis refers to inflammation of the bile ducts. A gallstone, or a number of stones may pass from the gallbladder into the main (common) bile duct and become lodged, obstructing flow of bile from the liver to the intestine. Read more


Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder that may be acute or chronic. Complaints of upper-right abdominal pain, usually following a meal, can last from minutes to days, although most last less than 24 hours. Read more

Chronic Pancreatitis

In chronic pancreatitis, inflammation and damage develop more slowly, and can increasingly worsen over time. The pancreas becomes scarred, loses its ability to make enough digestive enzymes and insulin, and may result in clogging of the ducts. Read more


Diabetes occurs when glucose builds up in the blood due to the pancreas not producing enough insulin (or not using it correctly) resulting in low energy levels. Insulin is a hormone that your body's cells need to absorb glucose. Read more


Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder. More than one million people in the United States each year learn they have gallstones. A gallstone attack usually is marked by a steady, severe pain in the upper abdomen. Read more

Hereditary Pancreatitis

Hereditary pancreatitis is a rare condition that affects fewer than one in one million people. It is a genetic abnormality that can either be inherited or occur spontaneously. Read more

IPMN – Intraductal Tumors

IPMN, an acronym for Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm, is a cause of pancreatitis in which the cells that line the pancreatic duct are transformed into premalignant cells that produce mucous and block off the pancreatic duct. Read more

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the 4th most common cause of cancer in U.S. Some risk factors include: family history, age, smoking, diets low in vegetables and/or high in red meats, obesity, diabetes and chronic pancreatitis. Read more

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)

If the ducts that lead from the liver to the duodenum sustain enough damage, or experience repeated bouts of cholangitis, gallstones, or other conditions that affect this tissue, the defense mechanism of the body is to develop scar tissue. Read more

Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction

SOD occurs when the opening mechanism is disturbed and can cause pain, leaking or other abnormalities. The sphincter goes into spasm which may lead to back up of biliary and pancreatic juices, resulting in pancreatitis. Read more

Why should I visit the Medical University of South Carolina?

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MUSC Ashley River Tower

Your doctor will probably agree with you about your preference to come to MUSC. We offer excellent patient care at a state-of-the-art facility, in a historic setting in the southeastern United States. Our doctors are nationally ranked among the highest in the nation. We employ a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of patients using the latest technology in medicine.

Come see why MUSC is changing what's possible®.

Read more about why you should choose MUSC for your healthcare needs.