Aim: To evaluate the clinical, morphological and aetiological aspects of acute pancreatitis in children in Italy.
Patients: The hospital records of 50 consecutive patients with acute pancreatitis observed in 5 Italian Pediatric Departments were reviewed.
Results: A total of 25 males and 25 females (median age 10.5 years, range 2-17) were studied. Of these patients, 48 (96%) had abdominal pain. The pancreatitis was associated with biliary disease in 10 patients (20%); it was due to viral infection in 6 patients (12%), pancreatic duct abnormalities in 4 (8%, familial chronic pancreatitis in 3 (6%), trauma in 5 (10%) and other causes in 5 (10%); the pancreatitis was of unknown origin in 17 patients (34%). Previous attacks of the disease had occurred in 14 patients. A diagnosis of mild pancreatitis was made in 41 patients (82%) and of severe disease in 9 (18%). One patient with severe pancreatitis died from multiorgan failure. Patients with severe pancreatitis had significantly higher serum concentrations of C-reactive protein than patients with mild pancreatitis. Hospital stay was similar for patients with the mild form and those with the severe form of the disease.
Conclusions: In Italian children, acute pancreatitis is of unknown origin in about one-third of the children and is recurrent in 28% of the cases. The disease is severe in 18% of the cases.