JOURNAL ARTICLE
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A prospective study of the aetiology, severity and outcome of acute pancreatitis in Eastern India.

BACKGROUND: Acute pancreatitis is a common cause of hospital admission. The aim of this study was to evaluate the aetiology, severity and outcome of acute pancreatitis in our tertiary referral center.

METHODS: Between August 2002 and December 2003, 45 cases of acute pancreatitis were admitted to the hospital. Diagnosis was ascertained by clinical examination and investigations (hyperamylasaemia). The severity was assessed by the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation scoring system and contrast enhanced computed tomography scan. The patients were treated according to a designed protocol. The data related to aetiology, severity and outcome were noted for subsequent analysis.

RESULTS: Of the 45 patients, 33 were male and 12 were female. The mean age was 30 years. Of the 45 patients, 34 patients had mild pancreatitis and 11 had severe pancreatitis. The aetiology spectrum of mild pancreatitis included the following: alcoholism in 14 (41.1%), gallstones in 8 (23.5%), trauma in 6 (17.6%), idiopathic in 4 (11.7%) and post-endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography in 2 (5.8%). The causes of severe acute pancreatitis came under the following headers: trauma in 3 (27.2%), idiopathic in 2 (18.1%), gallstones in 2 (18.1%), alcoholism in 2 (18.1%) and post-endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography in 2(18.1%). Mild pancreatitis led on to the following: pancreatic abscess in 1, pseudocyst in 3 and readmission for pain relapse within 6 months in 10 patients. The remainder had uneventful recoveries. There was no mortality in this group. Severe acute pancreatitis led on to the following: symptomatic sterile pancreatic necrosis in 2, infected pancreatic necrosis in 2, pancreatic abscess in 2 and presentation 8 months later with colonic stricture in 1 patient. There were 2 deaths in this group due to multi-organ failure.

CONCLUSION: Although gallstones have largely been implicated as a common cause of acute pancreatitis our study found alcoholism as the main aetiological factor. Blunt abdominal trauma was also seen as a common cause of acute severe pancreatitis, particularly severe acute pancreatitits, as seen in our series. The outcome in mild pancreatitis was good, severe acute pancreatitis leads to more complications and greater mortality, thus requiring careful medical and surgical management.

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