Objectives: The seemingly frequent radiological observation of aortic calcification in patients with chronic pancreatitis seen in our clinic prompted us to assess the prevalence of this lesion in this disease.
Methods: Fifty-seven consecutive patients with chronic pancreatitis (52 male, five female; mean age 44.2 yr, range 26-59 yr), and 66 healthy controls, matched for sex and age, were studied. Of the 66 controls, 40 were both smokers and drinkers, as were most of the patients. The presence of aortic calcification was determined by performing anteroposterior and lateral radiograms of the prelumbar region.
Results: Radiological evidence of aortic calcification was found in 35 of the 57 patients with chronic pancreatitis (61.4%) and in 12 of the 40 smoker control (30.0%) (p < 0.005); none of the nonsmoker controls had aortic calcification. The increased frequency was more pronounced among the patients under 50 yr of age (40.0% vs. 0% and 70.4% vs. 35.3% in the 30-39 and 40-49 yr age groups, respectively). No significant differences in serum levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, alcohol, and smoking habits were observed between chronic pancreatitis patients with aortic calcification and those without, or between patients with aortic calcification and controls.
Conclusions: The results indicate that patients with chronic pancreatitis have a significantly higher prevalence of aortic calcification than controls. The reason for the increased prevalence of this advanced atherosclerotic lesion is nuclear.