To investigate the cause of acute pancreatitis (AP) by conducting a thorough investigation of drugs and their possible etiological role.
We investigated the cause of AP in a large retrospective cohort of 613 adult patients admitted with AP at the Akershus University Hospital, Norway, from 2000 until 2009, who were evaluated with standard ward investigations. This group was compared with a prospectively evaluated group (n = 57) admitted from January 2010 until September 2010 who investigated more extensively using medical history and radiological assessment.
The groups were comparable with regards to gender, age, comorbidity and severity. The most common etiology was bile stones and alcohol, occurring in 60% in both groups. The prospective group was examined more thoroughly with regards to the use of alcohol and medicines. An increased number of radiological investigations during hospital stay and at follow-up were also performed. A more extensive use of radiological evaluation did not increase the detection frequency of bile stones. In the prospective group, more than half of the patients had two or more possible causes of pancreatitis, being mostly a combination of bile stones and drugs. No possible cause was found in only 3.5% of these patients, compared with 29.7% in the retrospective group.
A detailed medical history and extensive radiological evaluation may determine a possible etiology in almost all cases of AP. Many patients have several possible risk factors, and uncertainty remains in establishing the definitive etiology.
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