Management of gallstone pancreatitis in Auckland: progress and compliance

Soo-Kim Ong, Peter M Christie, John A Windsor
ANZ Journal of Surgery 2003, 73 (4): 194-9

BACKGROUND: Recent advances in the management of acute gallstone pancreatitis include the introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy,defining the role of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography(ERCP) and early cholecystectomy to prevent recurrent pancreatitis. The aim of the present study was to review the current management of gallstone pancreatitis in Auckland Hospital, compare findings with a similar study published a decade ago and to determine the extent to which the management is compliant with recently published consensus guidelines.

METHODS: A retrospective review of consecutive patients admitted with acute pancreatitis during a 39-month study period was undertaken. Data were recorded regarding demographics, diagnosis, predicted and actual severity of gallstone pancreatitis (index and recurrent attacks), the role of ERCP and computed tomography scanning, the timing of cholecystectomy (open and laparoscopic), intraoperative cholangiography, duration of hospital stay, complications and mortality.

RESULTS: : There were 216 patients admitted with acute pancreatitis,106 of whom had proven gallstones. An ERCP was performed in 62(59%) patients with gallstone pancreatitis but not more commonly in patients with severe pancreatitis, and common bile duct stones were identified in 26% of these patients. Of the 70 (66%)patients who had a cholecystectomy, 56 (80%) had it within 3 weeks of admission. Although the proportion of patients with gallstone pancreatitis who had a cholecystectomy is similar to the earlier study, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of patients having a cholecystectomy during the index admission (chi2 = 3.83; P = 0.05). This has resulted in a reduction in recurrent pancreatitis (P < 0.001). Although the overall mortality from gallstone pancreatitis has not significantly decreased, it has for patients with predicted severe gallstone pancreatitis (P = 0.02).

CONCLUSION: : There has been reasonable compliance with published guidelines and some progress in the management of gallstone pancreatitis,particularly in relation to performing timely laparoscopic cholecystectomy with a reduction in the incidence of recurrent pancreatitis. Concerns remain regarding the overuse of diagnostic ERCP in patients with mild pancreatitis.

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