Incidence and reversibility of organ failure in the course of sterile or infected necrotizing pancreatitis

Arch Surg. 2001 Dec;136(12):1386-90. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.136.12.1386.


Background: Multiple organ failure (MOF) and infected necrosis are both considered severe adverse events during the course of necrotizing pancreatitis.

Hypothesis: The incidence of MOF and its reversibility in patients with necrotizing pancreatitis are influenced by the presence or absence of infected necrosis.

Design: Case series.

Setting: Intensive care, university teaching hospital.

Patients: Forty-three patients with necrotizing pancreatitis and failure of at least 1 organ were prospectively included.

Main outcome measures: Organ failure defined according to the Goris classification; MOF defined by the simultaneous occurrence of 3 organ failures and graded with an MOF score. Microbial status of necrosis was assessed by percutaneous or intraoperative sampling. Surgical drainage was performed in patients with infected necrosis, whereas sterile necrosis was managed conservatively.

Results: Infected necrosis occurred in 27 patients (63%). The mean (+/-SEM) number of organ failures was greater in cases of infection (3.6 +/- 1.1 vs 2.6 +/- 1.5; P =.02). Multiple organ failure occurred more frequently in cases of infected necrosis (23/27 vs 7/16; P<.01) and was responsible for an increased mortality in this subgroup (33% vs 6%; P =.1). The severity of MOF graded by the MOF score was related to the bacteriologic status of necrosis.

Conclusions: The higher mortality commonly attributed to MOF in patients with infected necrosis appears to be due to a higher frequency and an increased severity of MOF. Conservative management in patients with severe necrotizing pancreatitis and sterile necrosis complicated by MOF is supported by the high reversibility rate of MOF and the low mortality rate observed in this series.

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Drainage
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Organ Failure / epidemiology*
  • Multiple Organ Failure / therapy
  • Pancreatitis, Acute Necrotizing / complications*
  • Pancreatitis, Acute Necrotizing / microbiology
  • Pancreatitis, Acute Necrotizing / therapy
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Treatment Outcome