MDCT of acute mild (nonnecrotizing) pancreatitis: abdominal complications and fate of fluid collections

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2008 Mar;190(3):643-9. doi: 10.2214/AJR.07.2761.


Objective: The objective of our study was to describe the occurrence of local complications and the fate of fluid collections in milder forms of acute nonnecrotizing pancreatitis.

Materials and methods: Initial MDCT studies of 169 consecutive patients with mild acute pancreatitis and 203 follow-up CT examinations were reviewed. The fate of peripancreatic fluid collections was investigated, and the incidence and type of local complications were recorded and correlated to the CT grading system (A-E).

Results: Complications developed in nine of 169 patients, for an incidence of 5.3%. All morbidity occurred in the subgroup of 73 patients with initial fluid collections, for an incidence of 12.3%. Follow-up CT examinations available in 51 of these 73 patients documented rapid fluid resolution in 35 cases (68.6%) and persistence of fluid more than 2 weeks from onset in seven asymptomatic patients (13.7%). Acute, life-threatening complications (hemorrhage, infection, perforation) occurred in five patients, for an incidence of 6.8% among the 73 patients with initial fluid collections, or 3.0% in the entire group of 169 patients. Five patients developed acute pseudocysts. Long-term follow-up studies discovered two patients with chronic pancreatitis and one with groove pancreatitis.

Conclusion: A small number of acute, life-threatening abdominal complications and chronic complications are expected to occur in patients with milder forms of acute nonnecrotizing pancreatitis presenting with fluid collections. In these patients, clinical monitoring and repeated imaging studies are recommended to document the resolution of fluid or the development of complications.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Cavity
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Digestive System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Pseudocyst / complications*
  • Pancreatic Pseudocyst / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatitis / complications*
  • Pancreatitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreatitis / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*