Acute pancreatitis

Author(s): Dr Myriam Guessoum / Dr Nirav Patel

Hospital: St George's University Hospitals NHS Trust

Reference: RAD Magazine, 46, 542, 13-14


Acute pancreatitis is acute inflammation of the pancreas, typically presenting with acute onset epigastric pain and often radiating to the back. Hans Chiari was the first to propose autodigestion of the exocrine pancreatic tissue by the premature activation of digestive enzymes as the underlying pathophysiology of pancreatitis. This activation of enzymes results in breakdown of cells (necrosis or apoptosis) and the activation of an inflammatory cascade.

While the majority of patients have a self-limiting course, pancreatitis can be a severe life-threatening disease with risk of developing multi-organ failure and a mortality rate of approximately 5%.

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