Objective: To analyze and describe the incidence, pathophysiology, radiographic diagnosis and the initial management of hemorrhagic complications associated with pancreatitis.
Material and methods: Among 1,910 patients diagnosed of having pancreatitis in the last 10 years, 26 developed hemorrhagic complications (1.3%). These complications were detected from 2 months to 8 years after one or several episodes of pancreatitis with a mean of 2.3 years. Radiographic studies were reviewed and clinical management and outcome were recorded.
Results: Ten patients had CT evidence of pancreatic necrosis, 12 patients chronic pancreatitis, and 17 patients pancreatic pseudocysts. The cause of hemorrhage was bleeding pseudoaneurysm in 16 patients (61%), diffuse bleeding with pancreatic necrosis in 5 patients (19.5%) and hemorrhagic pseudocysts in 5 patients (19.5%). Intra-abdominal hemorrhage developed in 21 patients and gastro-intestinal bleeding in 5 patients. Arterial embolization was attempted in 12 patients and was successful in 9 patients (75%). Surgery was used in 16 patients and the overall mortality rate was 11%.
Conclusions: Hemorrhagic complications are rarely seen and are usually late sequelae of pancreatitis. They develop because of leaking or ruptured pseudoaneurysms, diffuse bleeding in pancreatic necrosis, and hemorrhagic pseudocysts. Early detection followed by angiography, embolization and/or surgery has decreased mortality rates.