Objective: To better define the epidemiology of acute pancreatitis in a racially diverse population.
Methods: Analysis of all patients hospitalized in California with first-time acute pancreatitis for the period between January 1994 and September 2001. Subtypes were classified based on the presence or absence of predisposing conditions.
Results: There were 70,231 patients hospitalized for first-time acute pancreatitis; 32.6% had biliary tract disease alone, 20.3% had alcohol abuse alone, and 36.6% were idiopathic. The age-standardized incidence increased by 32% from 33.2 to 43.8 cases per 100,000 adults for the period between 1994 and 2001, with the largest increase in the biliary group (52%). The standardized incidence rate of alcoholic and idiopathic pancreatitis was highest in African Americans, whereas biliary pancreatitis was highest in Hispanics. There was no change over time in the percentage of patients dying in the first 14 or 91 days; and in a risk-adjusted model, patients with alcoholic pancreatitis had the highest risk of dying.
Conclusions: The incidence rate of acute pancreatitis rose for the period between 1994 and 2001. However, there was no reduction in the 14- or 91-day case-fatality rate. Further research is needed to explain both the rise in the incidence rate of pancreatitis and the absence of any improvement in the early case-fatality rate.