Background/aim: Although pancreatic necrosis classifies acute pancreatitis (AP) as severe, many patients with tomographic evidence of necrosis never develop systemic complications. Our aim was to analyze the incidence of pancreatic necrosis, organ failure (OF), and the relationship between them.
Methods: Medical records from 165 patients with a first AP episode and in whom a contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) was performed were analyzed. Pancreatic necrosis was diagnosed as non-enhancing areas of the pancreas on the CECT and was graded as <30%, 30%-50%, and >50%. Pancreatic infection was assessed by guided percutaneous aspiration. Organ failure was defined according to the Atlanta criteria.
Results: Of 165 patients (mean age 42 years, 85 men), 54 (33%) had pancreatic necrosis. Necrosis was graded as <30% in 25 subjects (46%), 30%-50% in 16 (30%), and >50% in 13 (24%). Pancreatic infection was diagnosed in 14 cases (26%). Organ failure occurred in 49 patients: in 20 patients (37%) with necrosis, and in 29 patients (26%) without necrosis (P = 0.20). Extensive pancreatic necrosis (>50%) (P < 0.05) and infected necrosis (P < 0.05) were significantly associated with OF. Eight patients, all of them with OF, died. In 6 of these cases infected pancreatic necrosis was present.
Conclusions: Patients with pancreatic necrosis are not necessarily at risk of developing OF. However, it should be considered an important risk factor when the necrotizing process compromises more than 50% of the gland and is infected.