Acute Pancreatitis


~You are the on-call CT1 & have been called to see a patient in the resuscitation room of the ED. He is a 30-year-old man who was with his friends in a party throughout the weekend. He came to ED with complain of severe epigastric pain radiating to back & associated vomiting. Considering this as critical care station, you will be asked about the pathophysiology & management of this patient.
~A 62-year-old female has been referred to you with severe constant epigastric pain radiating to the back & is associated with bilious vomiting.
Her observations are as follows:
T 38
0 C, BP 130/90 mm Hg, P 120/min, RR 24/min, O2 saturation 82% on room air. She has passed 50 ml of urine since she came.
Blood results: Hb-12.4 g/dl, WCC- 17 x 10
9/L, Plt- 254 x 109/L,
Amylase- 2500 U/L, CRP- 50, Glucose- 6.5 mmol/L, Na- 135 mmol/L, K- 4.5 mmol/L, Urea- 18.4 mmol/L, Creat- 63 mmol/L, Corrected Ca- 1.8 mmol/L, LDH- 200 IU/L, Albumin- 30 g/L
ABG on room air: Ph 7.38, PaO
2– 10 kPa, PaCO2– 5.9 kPa, HCO3– 26 mmol/L, BE- +1.7 mmol/L

  1. What is your differential diagnosis?
    • Acute pancreatitis
    • Perforated viscus, e.g. perforated duodenal ulcer
    • Gastritis/Peptic Ulcer Disease
    • Biliary colic
    • Acute cholecystitis
    • Ascending cholangitis.
  2. What would be your initial management & investigation of this patient?
    Ans- I will follow A,C,B,D approach
    ⮕ I will start oxygen, Cardiovscular monitoring, observation, IV access with two large bore cannula & start fluid resuscitation.
    ⮕ I will take a history while performing an examination.
    ⮕ Catheterize the pt & attain strict fluid balance (strict fluid balance monitoring), keep pt nil-by-mouth; N-G tube may be used.
    ⮕ Analgesics, Anti-emetics & DVT prophylaxis.
    Investigations: FBC, U&E, LFT, s. Amylase, Lipase, LDH, AST (Aspartate transaminase), Ca, Glucose, C-reactive protein, & ABG,
    ⮕ ECG- flattened T-waves
    ⮕ Erect Chest radiograph- to exclude perforation/look for effusion
    ⮕ Abdominal radiograph- pancreatic calcification, sentinel loop
    ⮕Ultrasound scan- to exclude/confirm gallstone aetiology &/or dilated CBD
    ⮕Abdominal CT- in case of suspecting other potential differential diagnosis e.g. perforation
  3. What is pancreatitis?
    Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which may be either acute or chronic- causing considerable morbidity & mortality. It can be mild, moderate or severe depending on the presentation.
  4. What are common causes of pancreatitis?
    The commonest causes of pancreatitis in the UK are:
    Gall stones & Alcohol.
    Use the mnemonic I GET SMASHED:
    Ethanol (alcohol),
    Mumps (& other viruses- Epstein-Barr, CMV),
    Autoimmune diseases (PAN- polyarteritis nodosa, SLE),
    Scorpion sting (e.g. Tityus trinitatis), Snake bites,
    Hypercalcemia/ Hyperlipidemia/ Hypertriglyceridemia/ Hypothermia,
    Drugs (Azathioprine, Diuretics- furosemide & thiazides, NSAIDs, Sulphonamides, Didanosine etc.)
  5. (The site manager rings to ask you) Where would you manage this pt? What factors would help you make this decision?
    Ans- The need of bed for the patient of pancreatitis in the HDU (high dependency unit) or in the ICU (intensive care unit) depends on the predicted severity of the attack.
    As per the Guidelines from the British Society of Gastroenterology, the following factors may suggest the severity at initial assessment (& hence a need for a higher level bed):
    1. Clinical impression of severity (i.e. end-of-the-bed assessment)
    2. Obesity (BMI >30 kg/m2)
    3. APACHE II (Acute Physiology And Chronic Health Evaluation II) score >8
    4. Pleural effusion on chest radiograph
    5. At 24 hours a CRP (C-reactive protein) >150
      or, Glasgow score >3 also suggest a severe attack.

  6. Describe the different scoring systems for the assessment of severity of pancreatitis.
    1. Glasgow criteria: mnemonics- PANCREAS
      -PaO2 on room air < 8kPa,
      -Age > 55 years
      -Neutrophils (WCC > 15 x 109/L)
      -Calcium < 2 mmol/L
      -Renal (Urea > 16 mmol/L)
      -Enzymes (LDH > 600 U/L)
      -Albumin < 32 g/L
      -Sugar (blood glucose > 10 mmol/L)

      ~Interpretation: Score ≥ 3 severe Pancreatitis
    2. Ranson’s Criteria:

      Score  ≥ 3 severe Pancreatitis
      Score 0-2 2% mortality
      Score 3-4 15% mortality
      Score 5-6 40% mortality
      Score 7-8 100% mortality.
  7. What are the complications of pancreatitis?
    Ans- Complications of pancreatitis can be divided into:
    1. Systemic-
      • ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome),
      • Renal failure
      • MODS (multi-organ dysfunction syndrome),
      • Diabetes &
      • Death.
    2. Regional-
      • Abscess formation,
      • Infected necrosis,
      • Pseudocyst,
      • Gastrointestinal bleeding,
      • Splenic artery pseudoaneurysm &
      • Mesenteric venous thrombosis.
  8. When should a patient with gallstone pancreatitis undergo cholecystectomy?
    Ans- British Society of Gastroenterology guidelines advise definitive treatment (i.e. cholecystectomy if fit, ERCP- endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography & sphincterotomy if not) should be performed during the same admission or within 2 weeks of discharge.