Clinical Practice Guideline—Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2022 Jul 25;119(29-30):495-501. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.m2022.0223.


Background: Acute pancreatitis (AP) is among the commonest non-malignant admission diagnoses in gastroenterology. Its incidence in Germany lies between 13 and 43 per 100 000 inhabitants and is increasing. In 2017, 24 per 100 000 inhabitants were hospitalized for chronic pancreatitis.

Methods: From October 2018 to January 2019, we systematically searched the literature for original articles, meta-analyses, and evidence-based guidelines that were published in German or English between 1960 and 2018.

Results: 30-50% of cases of acute pancreatitis are caused by gallstone disease, and another 30-50% are due to alcohol abuse. The diagnosis is made when at least two of the following three criteria are met: typical abdominal pain, elevation of serum lipase, and characteristic imaging findings. If those criteria are ambiguous, transabdominal sonography is indicated. The early initiation of food intake lowers the rate of infected pancreatic necrosis, organ failure, or death (odds ratio 0.44; 95% confidence interval [0.2; 0.96]). In AP, Ringer's lactate solution should be preferred for fluid resuscitation, at 200-250 mL/hr for 24 hours. Severe pain should be treated with opiates.

Conclusion: The current German clinical practice guideline reflects the developments in the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatitis that have taken place over the past few years. The long-term care and monitoring of patients with complication-free pancreatitis is the responsibility of primary care physicians and gastroenterologists.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Fluid Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Pancreatitis, Acute Necrotizing* / diagnosis
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic* / diagnosis
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic* / epidemiology
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic* / therapy