JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Pancreatic ascites.

Pancreatic ascites is rarely considered in the differential diagnosis of exudative ascites, and is in fact missed in a majority of patients. Eleven cases of pancreatic ascites are described. 63.6% were chronic alcoholics. The clinical diagnosis was cirrhosis of liver (5/11), tuberculous peritonitis (5/11) or malignant peritonitis (1/11). In all patients ascites was exudative and the ascitic fluid amylase was markedly elevated (mean +/- SD: 7815 +/- 6507 SU/dl). Endoscopic retrograde pancreatography (ERP) performed in 4 patients demonstrated the site of leak in 3. Laparoscopy performed in 8 patients helped in the diagnosis of pancreatic ascites in all, which was confirmed on histology. Laparoscopy ruled out other causes of exudative ascites in all. We conclude that pancreatic ascites should be suspected in any patient with exudative ascites, especially chronic alcoholics and that ascitic fluid amylase should be routinely performed in all such cases. High ascitic fluid content is virtually diagnostic of pancreatic ascites. ERP is essential in preoperative assessment or planning endoscopic treatment. Laparoscopy is an invaluable investigation to rule out other conditions such as tuberculous or malignant peritonitis and cirrhosis of liver.

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