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Am J Surg. 2000 May;179(5):352-5.

Computed tomography severity index is a predictor of outcomes for severe pancreatitis.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington 98111, USA.



In a small group of patients with acute pancreatitis, Balthazar and Ranson demonstrated the applicability of computed tomography (CT) criteria to predict mortality. Building upon their work with a larger group of patients with acute pancreatitis, we set out not only to demonstrate that the CT severity index can predict death, but also length of hospital stay and need for necrosectomy.


We reviewed all patients admitted to our hospital in the years 1992 to 1997 with a primary diagnosis of acute pancreatitis. Entrance criteria required that a CT scan had been performed during the hospitalization. The index CT scan was used to determine a CT severity index (the CTSI of Balthazar and Ranson). Outcomes measured were death, length of stay (LOS), and need for necrosectomy (NEC). Statistical analysis was performed using Fisher's exact and chi-square tests where appropriate.


Between the years 1992 to 1997, 886 patients had 1,774 admissions for acute pancreatitis, of which 268 had a CT scan performed and were entered into our study. These 268 patients had a mean age of 57 years, a mean LOS of 16 days (1 to 118), and a mean CTSI of 3.9 (0 to 10). Overall mortality was 4% (n = 11). A CTSI >5 significantly correlated with death (P = 0.0005), prolonged hospital stay (P <0.0001), and need for necrosectomy (P <0.0001). Patients with a CTSI >5 were 8 times more likely to die, 17 times more likely to have a prolonged hospital course, and 10 times more likely to undergo necrosectomy than their counterparts with CT scores <5.


These data show that the CTSI is an applicable and comparable predictor of outcomes in severe pancreatitis.

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