JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Comparative study on acute pancreatitis management.

BACKGROUND: Guidelines have been published regarding the management of acute pancreatitis by the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG). The aim of the present paper is to compare the management of patients with acute pancreatitis in a tertiary referral medical centre and a regional health centre in Australia during 2001, evaluate compliance with the published BSG guidelines, and compare our data with those of a similar UK study.

METHODS: Patients with a primary diagnosis of acute pancreatitis were identified retrospectively. Eighty-four admissions from the Austin Hospital (AH), a tertiary referral centre, and 83 from The Geelong Hospital (TGH), a regional health centre, were treated in these two hospitals. The histories were collected and examined for compliance with the guidelines recommended by the BSG. We compared our data with the data from the two UK hospitals in a previous study.

RESULTS: Only 38% of patients from these two centres had all the investigations performed for severity stratification as recommended by BSG. In other respects, AH and TGH managed these patients with acute pancreatitis according to the recommendations. The overall mortality rate from acute pancreatitis was 3.0%, and within the group of severe acute pancreatitis the mortality rate was 22.7%. 65.5% of patients from AH with gallstone related acute pancreatitis had a cholecystectomy or sphincterotomy and extraction of gallstones within 4 weeks of presentation. There were five re-admissions to AH in 2001 due to non-operated gallstone-related acute pancreatitis. In contrast, 84.3% of patients from TGH had definitive treatment within 4 weeks and there were three re-admissions to TGH.

CONCLUSION: Overall, both a tertiary referral centre and smaller regional hospital in Australia managed acute pancreatitis according to recently published BSG guidelines. The guidelines emphasized the importance of expertise in hepatopancreatobiliary surgery, availability of intensive care unit/high dependency unit and dynamic CT scanning. The recommendations for definitive treatment of patients with gallstone-related pancreatitis within 4 weeks of presentation reduced the morbidity and mortality in this group. Although compliance with the guidelines on investigation for severity stratification of acute pancreatitis was poor, this lack of formal severity assessment did not appear to influence the outcome.

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