JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Acute pancreatitis in the Zabok General Hospital.

Acute pancreatitis is an acute disease of the pancreas due to the organ autodigestion. The disease is still burdened with numerous complications and quite frequently with lethal outcome, in spite of the sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic methods currently available. The disease has a benign course in a majority of patients (80%), however, in the remaining 20% it assumes a malignant course with the development of massive necroses of the pancreatic and peripancreatic tissues, infection, hemorrhage, and endogenous intoxication with lesions of the lungs, kidneys, heart and liver. The biliary tract disease plays the major role in the etiology of acute pancreatitis (80%), followed by alcoholism (10% to 15%). This differs from the experience acquired at the Zabok General Hospital, where an almost identical incidence of biliary and ethylic etiology was recorded. Other, less common causes include post-traumatic, postoperative, infective and hormonal (hyperparathyroidism) etiology. In some cases, the cause of acute pancreatitis remains unknown. The disease shows a female predominance, which results from the higher prevalence of cholelithiasis in women than in men. Anatomically, there are two main forms of acute pancreatitis, interstitial or edematous form, and hemorrhagic necrotizing form. The interstitial or edematous form of acute pancreatitis is characterized by edema (exudation) of the pancreatic interstitium. The hemorrhagic necrotizing form of acute pancreatitis is characterized by autodigestion of a minor or major portion of the pancreas and peripancreatic tissues. The diagnosis of acute pancreatitis may initially pose a considerable problem. Decision on the mode of treatment should primarily be based on the clinical picture and supported by relevant laboratory parameters and other diagnostic procedures (ultrasonography, computed tomography). Conservative therapy is indicated for the edematous form of acute pancreatitis, whereas operative treatment is as a rule used for the necrotizing form of acute pancreatitis. Secondary bacterial contamination of the necrotic foci with the development of septic complications occurs in more than 50% of patients with the necrotizing form of acute pancreatitis, and is an absolute indication for surgical intervention. The modes of treatment used in 57 patients admitted for acute pancreatitis during the 1996-1999 period are described. Cholelithiasis was the cause of acute pancreatitis in 28 (49.1%), and alcoholism in 29 (50.9%) patients. Conservative treatment was used in 41 (72%) patients. Sixteen (28%) patients underwent operative treatment. Explorative laparotomy and drainage were performed in four patients, and explorative laparotomy, necrectomy, sequestrectomy and drainage with two or more drains in 11 patients. Cholecystectomy and T drainage along with necrectomy and drainage were performed in one patient. There were 12 (21%) patients with the most severe form of acute pancreatitis. Nine of these patients were operated on (necrectomy drainage) between day 6 and 10 of the disease. Two of these patients had to be reoperated on within a month, due to necrosis and abscess recurrence. Three of the 12 patients with the severe form of acute pancreatitis received conservative therapy. Fifteen patients were operated on 8-10 weeks after acute pancreatitis had subsided. Pseudocysts developed in three patients. These patients were operated on 6-8 weeks from the onset of disease, with internal drainage via isolated small intestine flexure performed in all of these patients. The mean duration of intensive care unit stay for all patients with acute pancreatitis was 20.6 days. Four of 57 patients hospitalized for acute pancreatitis died. The mortality rate in the group of patients with the severe form of acute pancreatitis (n = 12) was 33%. Complications developed in 50% of operatively treated patients.

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