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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2004 Nov;16(12):1295-9.

Overlap syndrome of autoimmune pancreatitis and cholangitis associated with secondary Sjögren's syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutritrion, Medical Faculty Charité, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.


In approximately 25% of patients with acute or chronic pancreatitis the cause remains unclear. Despite progress in understanding so-called idiopathic pancreatitis, more diagnostic criteria are needed. We report on a patient who presented with jaundice, but without pain or fever. Under the assumption of pancreatic cancer the patient underwent hemipancreatoduodenectomy. Histological examination showed chronic sclerosing inflammation of the pancreas and bile ducts without any signs of malignancy. Ten weeks later he developed bilateral parotid swelling and recurrent bouts of fever. Again liver enzymes were elevated and unsuccessfully treated with antibiotics for bacterial cholangitis. Further biopsies from submandibular gland, lymph nodes and liver again showed chronic sclerosing inflammation with lymphoplasmacytic infiltration. For sicca symptoms the diagnosis of a primary Sjogren's syndrome was proposed. However, with corticosteroid treatment the patient improved remarkably but after tapering he relapsed. On the basis of established criteria, we diagnosed autoimmune pancreatitis with (1) diffuse swelling of the pancreas, (2) irregularities of the pancreatic duct, (3) lymphoplasmacytic infiltration, (4) response to corticosteroids, (5) hypergammaglobulinaemia, and (6) disproportionately raised IgG4. In addition, the patient fulfilled the criteria for secondary Sjogren's syndrome. Autoimmune pancreatitis may present as an isolated or syndromic disease. It is an autoimmune disorder of unknown cause and should be included in the differential diagnosis of pancreatic disorders.

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