Published online in the journal Pancreas, Dr A Lavy and colleagues have examined the use of natural [beta]-carotene on the incidence of pancreatitis in patients who have undergone endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
ERCP is a commonly used procedure writes Dr Lavy, with pancreatitis its most common complication. As this injury may be mediated by oxidative stress, Dr Lavy and his team hypothesized that it could therefore be ameliorated by antioxidants, such as [beta]-carotene.
The scientists therefore conducted a double-blind trial, giving patients either a single dose of natural [beta]-carotene, or else placebo, 12 hours prior to ERCP.
|4 patients (2.22%) in the placebo group had severe pancreatitis, while none did in the [beta]-carotene group|
Each patient was then monitored for 24 hours post-procedure and any complications arising from the ERCP, as well as antioxidant levels and plasma oxidation were all recorded.
The study showed that overall incidence of acute pancreatitis, according to the definitions adopted by the study, was 9.6%.
A comparison of the incidence of pancreatitis between the control group and the [beta]-carotene group showed there was little difference (9.4% and 10% respectively).
However, 4 patients (2.22%) in the placebo group had severe pancreatitis, while none did in the [beta]-carotene group, a finding that is statistically significant.
The researchers conclude therefore that while they did not see a reduction in the incidence of post-ERCP pancreatitis, there may be some protective effect of treatment with [beta]-carotene regarding the severity of disease.