In recent years a peculiar type of chronic pancreatitis with underlying autoimmunity has been described. Lymphoplasmacytic infiltration and fibrosis on histology and elevated IgG levels or detected autoantibodies on laboratory data support the concept of autoimmune chronic pancreatitis (AIP). Pancreatic imaging reveals a rare association of diffuse enlargement of the pancreas and irregular narrowing of the main pancreatic duct, which is unique and specific to AIP. Although AIP is not a common disease, it is increasingly being recognized as knowledge of this entity builds up. Clinically it is very important to be aware of this disease because AIP can clinically disguise as pancreaticobiliary malignancies, ordinary chronic, or acute pancreatitis. Above all, AIP is a very attractive disease to clinicians in terms of its dramatic response to oral steroid therapy in contrast to ordinary chronic pancreatitis. This review discusses the clinical, laboratory, histologic, and imaging findings that are seen in patients with AIP, especially focusing on the diagnosis.
Copyright 2004 American College of Gastroenterology