Background: Serum amylase gives a poor estimate of both the true incidence and the severity of acute pancreatitis (AP).
Methods: We evaluated serum pancreatic elastase-1 (PE-1) prospectively in 567 patients in whom AP was suspected. In established AP, severity was assessed using the Glasgow Criteria, and C-reactive protein, amylase, and serum PE-1 were evaluated over 5 days.
Results: The sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic efficiency of serum PE-1 were 0.66, 0.85, and 0.84, respectively. The diagnostic accuracy of serum PE-1 was 0.80, and that of amylase 0.97. Serum PE-1 did not correlate with disease severity or the development of complications, but it fell more slowly than the serum amylase in the week after admission.
Conclusions: The serum PE-1 level correlated closely with the serum amylase but conferred no benefit as a diagnostic test, nor did it provide further prognostic information.