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Pancreas. 2011 May;40(4):517-21. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0b013e318214fe42.

The etiology of acute recurrent pancreatitis in children: a challenge for pediatricians.

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  • 1Unit of Cystic Fibrosis, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Rome, Italy.



To assess specific etiologies of acute recurrent pancreatitis at a single Italian pediatric cystic fibrosis (CF) center.


We studied, retrospectively, 78 young patients (39 female subjects; mean age at diagnosis, 8.8 ± 5.1 years) affected by acute recurrent episodes of pancreatitis, remained etiologically undiagnosed at first-level assessment. All patients were submitted to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography to exclude biliopancreatic malformations and tested for CF by a sweat chloride test. Most patients also were studied for the research of CFTR, PRSS1, and SPINK1 gene mutations.


A high percentage of family history for chronic pancreatitis was observed (20.5%). The sweat test identified 8 subjects (10.3%) with classic CF (2 patients) or at risk for CF (6 patients). Genetic analysis showed mutations in CFTR, SPINK1, and PRSS1 genes in 39.6%, 7.1%, and 4.5% of patients, respectively. A biliopancreatic malformation was diagnosed in 15 patients (19.2%). We also observed biliary lithiasis (5 patients [6.5%]), congenital pancreatic polycystosis (2 patients), a case of dyslipidemia, and 1 patient with a posttransplantation, drug-induced pancreatitis.


Recurrent pancreatitis in children has several etiologies. Genetic testing confirms the high frequency of CFTR mutations. This suggests that it is of some value to identify patients with late-onset CF and CFTR-related disorders.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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