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    See "References / Further Reading"

    Acute Pancreatitis


    • Acute onset of pancreatic and peripancreatic inflammation
    • Rate is rising (10-45 cases / 100,000), 5% mortality rate.
    • Classification:
      • Severity Criteria

        Mild Pancreatitis

        (Most Cases)

        Acute pancreatitis that does not meet

        "severe" criteria".

        Severe Pancreatitis

        - 20% of acute pancreatitis

        - up to 20% mortality

        Organ failure

            - hypoxemia

            - hypotension

            - renal failure



           - Pancreatic Necrosis

           - Fluid collections


    • Premature activation of intracellular pancreatic trypsinogen to trypsin conversion (activation).
      • Triggers inflammatory cascade, causing capillary leak --> Can cause SIRS


    • 80% of all acute pancreatitis are from Gall Stones or EtOH
    • Causes of Pancreatitis

      G - Gall Stones (45%) (MOST COMMON)

         - Microlithiasis

      E - Ethanol (35%)  (MOST COMMON)

      T - Tumors (choledochocele)

      S - Steroids

      M - Mumps

      A - Autoimmune (Polyarteritis Nodosa, SLE)

         - (Other infections: viral [CMV, MUMPS], parasitic [toxoplasma, Ascaris lumbricoides])

      S - Scorpion bite

      H - Hypertriglyceridemia (TG > 5.6) Hypercalcemia

      E - ERCP (post-ERCP), Emboli, Ischemia

      D - Drugs

      • SAND Mnemonic
      • S - Simvastatin
      • A - Azathioprine, 6-MP
      • N - NSAIDS?
      • D - Diuretics (Furosemide, hydrochlorthiazide)
      • Mesalamine, asparaginase, didanosine



      - Pancreas divisum (two congenital pancreatic ducts)

      - Genetic, Ischemia


    • Sudden onset pain in epigastric region with radiation to the back.
      • (more comfortable seated position than supine).
    • Nausea, vomiting, fever.
    • Pleural Effusions --> dyspnea. (from capillary leak).


    Diagnostic Criteria

    • Diagnostic Criteria for Acute Pancreatitis

      Need at least two of:

          1.  Typical clinical symptoms

          2.  Elevated serum amylase and/or lipase level> 3x ULN

          3.  Typical findings on cross-sectional imaging.

    • Lipase has a longer half-life, MUCH more specific.
    • Amylase is less specific (can see in salivary glands, fallopian tubes rises sooner.
      • Non-specific, also seen in:
        • Perforated peptic ulcer
        • Intestinal ischemia
        • Acute hepatitis or cholecystitis
        • Rupture ectopic pregnancy
        • Parotidis
        • CKD
      • Macroamylasemia
        • Bening condition - multimers of amylase that are poorly filtered (need to do SPEP to find out). 
      • Gullo Syndrome
        • Rare cause of benign amylase and sometimes even lipase elevations.
    • Contrast CT - only if clinical picture is not clear.
      • Pancreatic or peripancreatic edema (+inflammatory stranding), fluid collections
      • Pancreatic necrosis (but rare on initial imaging). 
      • Splenic vein thrombosis? 



    • Ranson Criteria  (need parameters on admission + 48hrs later).
      • Problem: Complexity, and cannot make initial analysis.
    • Apache Score (MORE COMMON)
      • The Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II
      • More accurate than Ranson, but cumbersome. (i.e. need ABG, etc...)
    • Hemoconcentration
      • Potential predictor of morbidity and mortality (marker of capillary leak).
      • **Elevated BUN (serum)** Most important, most reliable, can trend.
      • Elevated Creat
      • Elevated Hematocrit
    • Others:
      • Medical comorbidities
      • >75, 
      • BMI > 30


      • ICU if hemodynamically unstable or breathing challenges
    • Require:
      • Narcotic analgesia
      • Bowel rest (NPO)
      • Aggressive early fluids (Pancreas can sequester a lot of fluid) --> decrease ECV --> AKI + other organs.
        • High risk of necrotizing pancreatitis (contrast CT often demonstrates inflammation and hypoperfusion).
        • Monitor hypovolemia signs (tachycardia, hypotension, dry MM, hematocrit).
        • Rehydration helps prevent organ failure.
    • Other therapies:
    1. NG Tube  --> NOT INDICATED
    • Usually not needed, unless have ileus as a result from pancreatitis
    • ERCP: AVOID, can worsen: in gall stones or worsening sympsoms + rising liver chemistry
    • ONLY in two scenarios:
      • 1.  Concominant ascending cholangitis (fever, RUQ pain, and jaundice)
      • 2.  Gallstone pancreatitis who is not improving clinically and has worsening liver chemistry tests.
    1. Starting: Naso-Jejunal feeding
    • Criteria: Start as soon as feasible NJ feeding, especially if no signs of improvement in first 72-92hrs.
    • Avoid IV nutrition (high risk fungemia, bacteremia).
    1. Surgery
    • Cholecystectomy indicated prior to discharge if pt has gall stone pancreatitis, and no other complications.  (previously done as O/P once pancreas "cools off")
    • Also done if pancreas is necrotic, due to high risk of mortality.  But usually need repeat OR to keep removing necrotic tissue.  Various drains are currently investigated.
    1. Antibiotics --> NOT INDICATED
    • In the past used carbapenems, but now not indicated, even if necrosis is present.
    • Studies: NO BENEFIT on mortality (predisposis to intra-abdominal fungal infections)
    • If significant pancreatic necrosis --> can consider percutaneous fine-needle aspiration (culture + Gram stain).
      • Abx only for culture-proven infected necrosis of the pancreas.
      • If documented necrotizing pancreatitis and develop clinical instability (Fever, Hypotension)
        • Must sample pancreatic bed (endoscopically, percutaneously, or surgical).
        • May need drainage, if infected.
    1. Probiotics --> worsen outcomes



    • Pseudocysts (Most Common)
      • Fluid collection without solid degree (no epithelial layer)  - Most common complication
        • Often walled off pancreatic necrosis
      • Pancreatic fluid collections due to destruction of main pancreatic duct or branches.
      • Often have continued abdominal pain, failure to thrive, hospitalization etc..
        • Can have mass effect on stomach
      • Pseudocysts typically resolve spontaneously, and do not need treatment.
      • If persist or have mass effect: surgical decompression, percutaneously, endoscopically.
    • Leaking Pancreatic Ducts (30%)
      • If untreated, can develop fistulas.
      • Treated with:
        • Endoscopic stenting.
        • Can use octreotide to decrease secretions. 
        • Pancreatic enzymes to replace what is lost.
        • Bowel rest.
    • Splenic Vein Thrombosis
      • Anticoagulation not recommended.
      • Secondary to inflammation around that vein in pancreas.
      • Can cause gastric varices.
    • Diabetes
      • If lost a lot of pancreas.



    1. IV HYDRATION -> Aggressive!!!
      • High risk of necrotizing pancreatitis (contrast CT often demonstrates inflammation and hypoperfusion).
      • Monitor hypovolemia signs (tachycardia, hypotension, dry MM, hematocrit).
      • Rehydration helps prevent organ failure.
    2. Notes On Other Therapies
      1. Antibiotics? --> NOT INDICATED in acute pancreatitis, even if necrosis is present.  In the past used carbapenems.
        • Studies show no benefit of prophylactic abx in severe necrotic pancreatitis.  (abx raise risk of abdominal fungal infections)
        • If significant pancreatic necrosis --> can consider percutaneous fine-needle aspiration (culture + Gram stain).
        • Treat only if culture-proven infected necrosis of the pancreas.
      2. ERCP ?
        • ->  Can worsen pancreatitis.  Only indicated if gallstone pancreatitis and worsening liver chemistry + instability (or if concerning for ascending cholangitis).
      3. NG suction? --> NOT INDICATED
        • Early feeding decreases hospital stay, mortality.  No need to NG suction.
      4. Probiotics contraindicated: increases mortality.
      5. Surgery:
        • If necrotic, high mortality.
        • However have to repeat OR many times, keep taking out necrotic tissue.
        • Investigated various drains.


    References / Further Reading

    • Banks PA, Freeman ML; Practice Parameters Committee of the American College of Gastroenterology. Practice guidelines in acute pancreatitis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2006;101(10):2379-2400. PMID: 17032204
    • MKSAP 16


    • Presenting with neuroglycopenic symptoms and recurrent hypoglycemic episodes.
    • First test: 8h fasting glucose (will be low!), and can directly measure insulin (will be inappropriately high)
    • Imaging:
      • Start with CT (r/o large tumors and metastasis)
      • if CT negative, (can miss small <2cm lesions) do endoscopic ultrasound (90% detection).