CT of fluid collections associated with pancreatitis

S S Siegelman, B E Copeland, G P Saba, J L Cameron, R C Sanders, E A Zerhouni
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology 1980, 134 (6): 1121-32
Fluid collections are an important component of severe pancreatitis because they may produce a detectable mass and may be responsible for prolongation of fever and pain. Among 59 cases of clinically verified pancreatitis, 32 were shown by CT to be complicated by pancreatic and/or extrapancreatic fluid collections. Pancreatic fluid collections, diagnosed in 16 patients, were typically on the anterior or anterolateral surface of the gland and were covered only by a thin layer of fibrous connective tissue. Extrapancreatic fluid collections were detected in the lesser sac (19 cases), anterior pararenal space (15), posterior pararenal space (six), in or around the left lobe of the liver (five), in the spleen (three), and in the mediastinum (one). The potential undesirable consequences of escape of pancreatic juice are necrosis, abscess formation, or prolonged inflammation of the peripancreatic tissues. Relative preservation of pancreatic integrity as observed by CT was regularly found in patients with large extrapancreatic fluid collections, suggesting that escape of pancreatic juice produces a beneficial decompression of the pancreatic duct system.

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