Background and aims: Azathioprine [AZA] is recommended for maintenance of steroid-free remission in inflammatory bowel disease IBD. The aim of this study has been to establish the incidence and severity of AZA-induced pancreatitis, an idiosyncratic and major side effect, and to identify specific risk factors.
Methods: We studied 510 IBD patients [338 Crohn's disease, 157 ulcerative colitis, 15 indeterminate colitis] with initiation of AZA treatment in a prospective multicentre registry study. Acute pancreatitis was diagnosed in accordance with international guidelines.
Results: AZA was continued by 324 [63.5%] and stopped by 186 [36.5%] patients. The most common cause of discontinuation was nausea [12.2%]. AZA-induced pancreatitis occurred in 37 patients [7.3%]. Of these: 43% were hospitalised with a median inpatient time period of 5 days; 10% had peripancreatic fluid collections; 24% had vomiting; and 14% had fever. No patient had to undergo nonsurgical or surgical interventions. Smoking was the strongest risk factor for AZA-induced acute pancreatitis [p < 0.0002] in univariate and multivariate analyses.
Conclusions: AZA-induced acute pancreatitis is a common adverse event in IBD patients, but in this study had a mild course in all patients. Smoking is the most important risk factor.
Keywords: Azathioprine; Crohn’s disease; inflammatory bowel disease; lipase; pancreatitis; smoking; ulcerative colitis.
© European Crohn’s and Colitis Organistion (ECCO) 2015.