Aims: The aim of this prospective study was to assess pancreatic exocrine function in patients recovering from a first attack of acute pancreatitis, and to evaluate its relationship to severity of attack, extent of pancreatic necrosis and severity of pancreatic endocrine insufficiency.
Methods: Between December 2000 and November 2001, 23 patients were prospectively evaluated. Pancreatic exocrine function was measured by the faecal elastase-1 test and insufficiency was classified as moderately impaired or severely impaired. Pancreatic necrosis was determined by contrast-enhanced CT scan, and its extent was categorised according to Balthazar's classification. The severity of pancreatic endocrine insufficiency was categorised according to insulin dependence. Attacks were classified as mild (n = 16) or severe (n = 7) according to the Atlanta criteria.
Results: Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency was significantly more frequent in patients recovering from severe attacks than mild (n = 6, 86% vs. n = 2, 13%; p = 0.002), and in those who developed pancreatic necrosis or pseudocyst than those who did not (6 of 7 patients vs. 2 of 16 patients, and 5 of 5 patients vs. 3 of 18 patients respectively; p = 0.002). The development of exocrine insufficiency correlated strongly with the extent of pancreatic necrosis (r = -0.754, p < 0.001), and the severity of pancreatic endocrine insufficiency (n = 4, r = -0.453, p = 0.03).
Conclusion: Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency is a common occurrence in patients recovering from severe acute pancreatitis, and its severity correlates with the extent of pancreatic necrosis and the severity of concomitant pancreatic endocrine insufficiency.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel and IAP