Background: Autodigestion of the pancreas, secondary to the activation of digestive enzymes, is the pathogenetic mechanism of acute pancreatitis (AP).
Aim: Clinical trials in which somatostatin (SS), octreotide (OCT) and gabexate mesilate (FOY) were used to treat patients with AP, were submitted to a meta-analytical evaluation. Five end-points were evaluated: early and overall mortality, patients with complications, complication rate, and patients who needed surgery.
Results: In mild AP, no agent proved of value. In severe AP, both SS and OCT were beneficial in improving the overall mortality: the odds ratios (OR) were, respectively, 0.36 (95% CI: 0.20-0.64, P = 0.001) and 0.57 (95% CI: 0.35-0.88, P = 0.006). FOY had no effect on either early or overall mortality, but was effective in improving complication rate (OR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.56-0.88, P = 0.02), number of patients with complications (OR = 0.61, 95% CI: 0.41-0.91, P = 0.01), and number of cases submitted to surgery (OR = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.39-0.92, P = 0.01). SS and OCT had no effect on these latter outcomes.
Conclusions: Antisecretory agents, such as SS and OCT, are able to reduce mortality without affecting complications, whereas antiproteases, such as FOY, have no effect on mortality but do reduce complications. A trial exploring the efficacy of combining antisecretory agents with antiproteases would be of great benefit in patients with severe AP.