A clinical and radiologic review of uncommon types and causes of pancreatitis

Radiographics. 2009 Jul-Aug;29(4):1003-26. doi: 10.1148/rg.294085748.


Acute pancreatitis is one of the most common conditions for which emergent imaging is indicated. Alcohol consumption and cholelithiasis are the most common causes of acute pancreatitis in adults, whereas the majority of cases in children are idiopathic or secondary to trauma. A wide variety of structural and biochemical abnormalities may also cause pancreatitis. Although in some cases it is difficult to identify the specific cause of the disease radiologically, certain uncommon types of acute or chronic pancreatitis may have unique imaging features that can help the radiologist make an accurate diagnosis. These unusual types include autoimmune pancreatitis, groove pancreatitis, tropical pancreatitis, hereditary pancreatitis, and pancreatitis in ectopic or heterotopic pancreatic tissue. Pancreatitis may occasionally be seen in association with cystic fibrosis or pancreas divisum, or secondary to worm infestation of the pancreaticobiliary tree (eg, by Ascaris lumbricoides). In addition, primary pancreatic and duodenal masses may occasionally manifest as acute or recurrent acute pancreatitis. Knowledge of the classic imaging findings of these entities allows prompt recognition of the relevant pathologic condition, thereby preventing misdiagnosis and subsequent inappropriate or delayed management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Cholelithiasis / complications*
  • Cholelithiasis / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Pancreatitis / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatitis / etiology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis