n South African Journal of Surgery - Acute pancreatitis : demographics, aetiological factors and outcomes in a regional hospital in South Africa : general surgery

Volume 46, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0038-2361
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5151



The spectrum of aetiologies and outcomes of acute pancreatitis in South African settings is under-reported. We report our experience at a regional hospital and compare it with international norms.

Data were prospectively collected on all admissions of patients with acute pancreatitis to a regional hospital during the period June 2001 - April 2006. The causes of the pancreatitis were noted and complications and mortality rate were determined.
From June 2001 to April 2006 there were 322 admissions of 282 patients with acute pancreatitis. The median age was 37 years (range 13 - 73 years). There were 94 females and 188 males. Episodes of pancreatitis were associated with alcohol consumption in 62% of cases and with gallstones in 14%; 4% of cases were associated with both gallstones and alcohol consumption, 8% with dyslipidaemia and 5% with retroviral disease. In 15% of admissions local complications developed, and 9% of admissions ended in death of the patient. Of the 28 deaths, 71% occurred in the first 2 weeks.
As in other South African reports, alcohol was the main cause of pancreatitis. Outcomes in this series are similar to those in Western studies except that the majority of deaths occurred early, implying that improved supportive care may improve overall survival.

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