Purpose: To examine the epidemiology of hospital admissions for acute pancreatitis in the United States.
Methods: We compiled data from the 1988-2003 National Hospital Discharge Survey and analyzed it with respect to patient demographics, hospital type and region, procedures performed, length of hospital stay, and inpatient mortality.
Results: Hospital admissions for acute pancreatitis increased from a 1988 low of 101,000 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 87,000-116,000) to a 2002 peak of 210,000 (95% CI: 186,000-234,000). The corresponding admission rate increased from 0.4 to 0.7 hospitalizations per 1000 U.S. population (p = 0.001). The patients' average age was 53 years, 51% were male, and 23% were black. The hospitalization rate was higher among blacks (0.9; 95% CI, 0.6-1.1) than among whites (0.4; 95% CI, 0.3-0.5). The mean length of stay was 6.9 days and decreased over the study period. Overall mortality was 2%, with increasing age and male gender comprising independent risk factors for death.
Conclusions: The hospitalization rate for acute pancreatitis in the United States is rising and is higher in blacks than in whites. Further research is necessary to identify the cause(s) of increasing pancreatitis admissions, the observed racial disparity, and the cost of these admissions.