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JOURNAL ARTICLE

An assessment of clinical guidelines for the management of acute pancreatitis

S A Norton, C V Cheruvu, J Collins, F P Dix, I A Eyre-Brook
Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 2001, 83 (6): 399-405
11777135

BACKGROUND: Recent guidelines have been issued for the management of acute pancreatitis. The aim of this study was to audit the management of acute pancreatitis in one district general hospital, to determine the problems and benefits associated with the implementation of such guidelines.

METHODS: Data were collected over the period 1991-1995 for all patients diagnosed as having acute pancreatitis who were admitted to one district general hospital. Data regarding severity grading, determination of aetiology and treatment of mild and severe pancreatitis were analysed in conjunction with the recommendations issued by the British Society of Gastroenterology Working Party on the management of acute pancreatitis in 1995.

RESULTS: A total of 210 patients were admitted on 263 occasions; 16% of cases were severe but severity prediction was inaccurate. 56.1% had gallstone pancreatitis and 20.9% had idiopathic pancreatitis. Definitive treatment of gallstones was within the recommended time limit in only 70.1%. 27 patients experienced recurrent attacks of pancreatitis before definitive treatment of their gallstones, due either to inadequate investigation for gallstones after suboptimal ultrasound examination (n = 12) or to inappropriate delay before definitive treatment of gallstones (n = 15). Recommendations for the management of severe cases with early ITU/HDU admissions and CT scanning were not followed. 28 day mortality was 6.3%, median age of those dying was 80.5 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Acceptable mortality can be achieved for acute pancreatitis despite failure to implement BSG guidelines for the management of severe acute pancreatitis. Inadequate investigation and treatment of gallstone disease leads to an unacceptable incidence of recurrent acute pancreatitis.

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