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Ann Surg. 1985 Jan;201(1):68-75.

Biochemical identification of patients with gallstones associated with acute pancreatitis on the day of admission to hospital.


Current trends in the treatment of gallstone pancreatitis require rapid diagnosis of cholelithiasis. This study evaluates the diagnostic potential of plasma aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin on the day of admission to hospital in 215 attacks of acute pancreatitis. The optimal diagnostic cut-off level for AST was 60 IU/1. A transient elevation above 60 IU/1 was recorded in 111 (84.1%) of 132 attacks associated with gallstones, but in only 12 (14.5%) of 83 attacks without stones, and was unrelated to the severity of the attack. Elevated levels of alkaline phosphatase and bilirubin were also more common in attacks associated with gallstones but were less reliable for the identification of cholelithiasis than AST. As a sensitive indicator of hepatocyte disruption, the early and transient rise in plasma AST is consistent with the concept of transient ampullary obstruction in gallstone pancreatitis, and may be useful in identifying patients who require urgent surgical or endoscopic disimpaction.

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