Pancreatitis in childhood. Experience with 49 patients

Ann Surg. 1988 Mar;207(3):257-61. doi: 10.1097/00000658-198803000-00006.


Pancreatitis in children is not common but can be associated with severe morbidity rates. We have treated 49 children with pancreatitis over the past 12 years ranging in age from 1 month to 18 years. One third of the patients had biliary tract disease as an etiology, with nearly half of these being related to underlying hematologic disease, usually sickle cell anemia. Another third of the pancreatitis was due to trauma, and one third of these were related to child abuse. Other etiologies were systemic disease (6 patients), congenital anomalies (8 patients), and idiopathic (3 cases). Eighty-two per cent of the patients presented with abdominal pain, but four children, all less than 4 years old, presented with an abdominal mass. Twenty-nine patients required 33 operations for pancreatitis. Fifteen of the 16 patients with biliary tract disease and all patients with congenital anomalies required operation. Six of the 16 patients with trauma required operation and none of those with systemic disease. As in adults ultrasonographic examination and CT scan are most important in the diagnosis; medical treatment consists of intravenous (I.V.) fluids, nasogastric suction, and total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and risk factors can help predict the severity of the disease while amylase alone is not related to severity. Different from adults, in children an etiology can usually be determined. The common etiologies, biliary tract disease, trauma, and congenital anomalies frequently require operation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Biliary Tract Diseases / complications
  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pancreatitis / epidemiology*
  • Pancreatitis / etiology
  • Pancreatitis / surgery
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors