A large volume of visceral adipose tissue leads to severe acute pancreatitis

J Gastroenterol. 2011 Oct;46(10):1213-8. doi: 10.1007/s00535-011-0430-x. Epub 2011 Jul 30.


Background: Obesity plays an important role in acute pancreatitis. Assuming that the volume of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) directly influences the severity of acute pancreatitis, we investigated the relationship between VAT and acute pancreatitis.

Methods: Data were collected consecutively from 124 patients who were diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from the database. Computed tomography was performed in all patients, and VAT, subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), and waist circumference (WC) were measured at the level of the intervertebral disk between L2 and L3. Atlanta criteria were adopted to define severe acute pancreatitis. Clinical courses were investigated, and the Ranson and acute physiology and chronic health evaluation II (APACHE II) scores were calculated for all patients.

Results: Forty-eight patients had severe acute pancreatitis (38.7%), and 76 were mild cases. BMI, VAT, SAT, and WC were correlated with the severity of acute pancreatitis in a univariate analysis, but only VAT had a strong correlation with severe acute pancreatitis in the multivariate analysis. In a trend analysis, not only severity but also the presence of pseudocysts (local complication) and prognostic factors (Ranson and APACHE II scores) were significantly related to VAT volume. In particular, the presence of a pancreatic pseudocyst was strongly related to VAT volume (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: In acute pancreatitis, peripancreatic VAT has a stronger correlation with severe acute pancreatitis than BMI or WC. VAT volume is strongly correlated with the formation of a pseudocyst and with systemic inflammatory response syndrome in patients with acute pancreatitis and high VAT volume may lead to severe acute pancreatitis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pancreatic Pseudocyst / etiology*
  • Pancreatic Pseudocyst / pathology
  • Pancreatitis / etiology
  • Pancreatitis / physiopathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / etiology*
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Waist Circumference