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Acute pancreatitis with Purtscher's retinopathy: case report and review of the literature.

The case is described of a 32-year-old man suffering from alcoholism who came to the Emergency Unit with vomiting, fever and sharp epigastric pain irradiating to the chest and upper abdomen. A diagnosis of acute pancreatitis was made after high amylase and lipase levels were observed and the results of computed tomography scan revealed images typical of acute pancreatitis. Findings upon admission and after the initial 48 hours did not correlate with a severe or complicated course according to Ranson's criteria. On the third day after admission he suddenly developed decreased vision. A fluorescein angiogram showed arteriolar occlusion, retinal and choriocapillary ischaemia. Purtscher's retinopathy was suspected. After 4 weeks, the patient had recovered from acute pancreatitis, ophthalmoscopic examination showed normal results, and visual acuity had almost returned to normal. Activation of complement in acute pancreatitis could account for many haematologic acute disorders due to leucocyte emboli or other complement-mediated aggregates. Coagulation abnormalities may range from isolated intravascular thrombosis to severe disseminated intravascular coagulation. Purtscher's retinopathy, due to microembolizations in the choroidal and retinal arterioles, should be included among the various systemic effects of acute pancreatitis. This visual disorder is a rare systemic manifestation of acute pancreatitis which was not correlated to a severe or complicated clinical course. Treatment of these ocular complications remains to be established and outcome, therefore, depends upon resolution of the pancreatic disease.

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