Pancreatitis in patients with organic acidemias

J Pediatr. 1994 Feb;124(2):239-43. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(94)70311-6.


Study objective: The discovery of pancreatitis in two children with methylmalonic acidemia led us to review the experience with pancreatitis in a large number of patients with organic acidemias to determine whether pancreatitis is an important complication of these disorders.

Design: Case series.

Setting: Pediatric metabolism services at five tertiary care centers.

Patients: Records of all patients with organic acidemias followed at the five institutions during the past 10 years were reviewed. Pancreatitis was recognized by symptoms and laboratory findings and confirmed by imaging studies, surgery, or autopsy. At three institutions all cases of pancreatitis in children younger than 10 years were reviewed.

Measurements and results: Nine children with pancreatitis (seven with acute and two with chronic cases) were identified among 108 children with branched-chain organic acidemias. They ranged in age from 13 months to 9 years. Five had methylmalonic acidemia, three had isovaleric acidemia, and one had maple syrup urine disease. There were three deaths; acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis occurred in two children, and chronic pancreatitis was found at autopsy in a third. All three patients with isovaleric acidemia and pancreatitis were identified after the occurrence of pancreatitis. The survey of pancreatitis at three institutions found 57 other patients (none with an inborn error) in addition to three patients with inborn errors included in this study.

Conclusions: Acute or chronic pancreatitis may complicate branched-chain organic acidemias and must be considered in the assessment of patients with these disorders who have acute clinical deterioration and vomiting, abdominal pain, encephalopathy or shock, or milder symptoms. Conversely, an inborn error of organic acid metabolism should be considered in children with pancreatitis of unknown origin.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Isovaleryl-CoA Dehydrogenase
  • Male
  • Maple Syrup Urine Disease / complications
  • Methylmalonic Acid / urine
  • Oxidoreductases / deficiency
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors*
  • Pancreatitis / etiology*


  • Methylmalonic Acid
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors
  • Isovaleryl-CoA Dehydrogenase