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Causal relationship between acute pancreatitis and methylprednisolone pulse therapy for fulminant autoimmune hepatitis: a case report and review of literature.

BACKGROUND: A causal relationship between acute pancreatitis and administration of glucocorticoids remains a matter of debate, since most of the reported cases were diagnosed with systemic vascular diseases (including systemic lupus erythematosus and polyarteritis nodosa) that may be responsible for the pancreatitis.

CASE PRESENTATION: We report a case of a 51-year-old woman who developed acute pancreatitis after receiving methylprednisolone pulse therapy for the treatment of fulminant autoimmune hepatitis (AIH). She was admitted to our hospital because of overt jaundice and back pain. Since her liver dysfunction deteriorated progressively, a liver biopsy was performed and a diagnosis of AIH was established. She was given intravenous methylprednisolone pulse therapy at 1000 mg/day for 3 days, and oral prednisolone at 40 mg/day thereafter. While her liver function improved rapidly, she started complaining of mild back pain and serum amylase and lipase levels were elevated from 5 days after the initiation of steroid therapy. A CT scan revealed mildly edematous changes around the pancreas, leading to a diagnosis of acute pancreatitis. After tapering off prednisolone, back pain disappeared, and elevated serum amylase was normalized without exacerbation of AIH. A systematic literature review identified 8 cases of acute pancreatitis developing after administration of corticosteroid pulse therapy with a median latent period of 5 days.

CONCLUSIONS: The present case and reports in the literature suggest that steroid pulse therapy may cause acute pancreatitis in patients having no signs of systemic vasculitis.

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