Acute pancreatitis: the role of imaging in diagnosis and management

Clin Radiol. 2011 Feb;66(2):164-75. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2010.09.003. Epub 2010 Nov 19.


Acute pancreatitis is one of the more commonly encountered aetiologies in the emergency setting and its incidence is rising. Presentations range from a mild-self limiting condition which usually responds to conservative management to one with significant morbidity and mortality in its most severe forms. While clinical criteria are necessary to make the initial diagnosis, contrast-enhanced CT is the mainstay of imaging and has a vital role in assessing the extent and evolution of the disease and its associated complications. The purpose of this article is to summarise the natural course of acute severe pancreatitis, clarify confusing nomenclature, demonstrate the morphological stages in conjunction with radiological scoring systems and illustrate the complications. We will review and illustrate the increasing and significant role interventional radiology has in the management of these patients, which are often life-saving and surgery-sparing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreatitis / classification
  • Pancreatitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiology, Interventional
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*