Background: The incidence of acute pancreatitis seems to have increased in Western countries. It has been suggested that this increase can be explained by improved diagnostic procedures. We performed a nationwide study to assess the annual sex- and age-specific incidence and mortality rates of acute pancreatitis in the Netherlands between 1985 and 1995, a period in which diagnostic procedures did not change considerably.
Methods: We conducted a population-based retrospective follow-up study in which we used automated hospital discharge data accumulated by Prismant Health Care Information. All patients admitted with acute pancreatitis (ICD-9CM, 577.0) in the Netherlands were identified. We accounted for referrals to other hospitals to avoid double counting and for miscoding of chronic pancreatitis as acute pancreatitis. The annual population size was retrieved from the Netherlands Central Statistics Office.
Results: The observed incidence of acute pancreatitis increased from 12.4/100,000 person-years (95% confidence interval (CI), 11.8-12.9) in 1985 to 15.9/100,000 person-years (95% CI, 15.3-16.5) in 1995. The annual mortality rate of acute pancreatitis remained fairly stable at 1.5/100,000 person-years. The incidence and mortality rate of acute pancreatitis increased considerably with age. The case-fatality proportion of first admissions for acute pancreatitis decreased from 14.3% to 10.7%. The case-fatality for relapses remained stable at 3.2%.
Conclusions: In this retrospective study the observed incidence of acute pancreatitis increased by 28% between 1985 and 1995. Due to a decrease in the case-fatality proportion, the mortality remained stable during this period.