Management of acute severe hyperlipidemic pancreatitis

Digestion. 2006;73(4):259-64. doi: 10.1159/000095425. Epub 2006 Aug 28.


Background/aim: Hypertriglyceridemia is rare and can provoke acute severe hyperlipidemic pancreatitis when triglyceride levels exceed 11.3 mmol/l. In 10 patients we evaluated the therapeutic guidelines for severe hyperlipidemic pancreatitis.

Methods: Ten patients (8 men and 2 women) were admitted to the intensive care unit with a diagnosis of acute severe hyperlipidemic pancreatitis. They underwent standard treatment. Heparin, insulin and antihyperlipidemic drugs were used to lower the triglyceride levels. The patients underwent plasmapheresis within 48 h of admission, and fat-free parenteral nutrition was used. Two of the patients underwent surgery because of infection of necrotic segments.

Results: Standard treatment was essential for all the patients but plasmapheresis was the procedure that lowered the triglyceride and lipid levels in all cases. It improved abdominal pain, clinical state, and signs and symptoms of the disease. Two patients underwent surgery due to infection of the necrotic segments and one of them died. Follow-up lasted 4-54 months with no recurrences of pancreatitis.

Conclusion: Our study shows that standard treatment is essential, but plasmapheresis successfully lowered lipid levels with no complications and relieved the patients from the symptoms in the acute phase of the disease. Hyperlipidemic pancreatitis should initially be treated conservatively. Plasmapheresis is a method that has lately been used successfully for hyperlipidemic pancreatitis. It seems that all therapeutic measures should be applied as early as possible, within the first 48 h.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood
  • Hyperlipidemias / complications*
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatitis, Acute Necrotizing / blood
  • Pancreatitis, Acute Necrotizing / chemically induced
  • Pancreatitis, Acute Necrotizing / therapy*
  • Parenteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Plasmapheresis / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Triglycerides