European researchers investigated the etiology and mortality of acute pancreatitis.
A total of 1068 patients (692 men, mean age 53 years), from 5 European countries, were included in the study. All were admitted to hospitals for acute pancreatitis from January 1990 to December 1994.
Data for each patient were collected on a standardized form.
Of the patients, 589 had edematous pancreatitis and 479 had the necrotic form.
Cholelithiasis (37%) and alcohol (41%) were found to be the most frequent etiologic factors.
In Germany, cholelithiasis and alcohol occurred with similar frequency (35% and 38%, respectively)
|Etiologic factors linked with acute pancreatitis:|
Cholelithiasis: 37% of cases
Alcohol predominated over cholelithiasis (61% vs 24%) in Hungary, and a small predominance of alcohol was seen in France (39% vs 25%).
However, in Greece and Italy, there was a clear predominance of cholelithiasis over alcohol (71% vs 6%, and 60% vs 13%, respectively).
The team found that these differences in the frequency of cholelithiasis and alcohol, between Greece and Italy and the other countries, were statistically significant.
Some 83 patients (8%) died of acute pancreatitis - 77 (16%) had necrotic disease and 6 (1%) edematous.
There was no statistically significant difference in mortality among the etiologic groups.
Furthermore, there was no relation between mortality and age.
Lucio Gullo, of the University of Bologna, Italy, said on behalf of the fellow authors, "Both cholelithiasis and alcohol were main etiologic factors in the more northern countries studied.
"Cholelithiasis alone predominated in the more southern ones."
"Mortality was high for necrotic pancreatitis; it was similar among the various etiologic groups, and there was no relationship between mortality and age," it was concluded.