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J Am Coll Surg. 1995 Sep;181(3):249-56.

Acute pancreatitis following liver transplantation.

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Multiorgan Transplantation Program, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Acute pancreatitis (AP) has not been recognized as a frequent complication following orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Reports have suggested that this condition is associated with high morbidity and mortality rates.


A retrospective review of 354 patients who underwent OLT at the University of Toronto, with at least one-year follow-up, was done to identify the incidence, etiology, risk factors, and severity of pancreatitis following OLT, as well as to discuss its management. A possible correlation between AP and hepatitis B was also investigated. Prognostic score systems, including Ranson, Imrie, and APACHE II, were also evaluated.


Acute pancreatitis occurred in 5.9 percent of the OLT recipients. Based on clinical presentation and diagnostic tests, AP could be subdivided into three distinct categories: biochemical AP, significant increase of serum amylase or lipase levels in absence of objective radiologic or surgical evidence of the disease; clinical AP, pancreatitis with radiologic or surgical evidence of the disease; and AP in the critically ill patient. Biochemical AP occurred in the early postoperative period and was consistently a benign condition. Clinical AP occurred after a delay and was associated with a 40 percent mortality rate. Acute pancreatitis in the critically ill patient was only one component of multiorgan failure, which was lethal in each case. About one-half of the patients with biochemical and clinical AP were hepatitis surface antigen positive prior to OLT. The incidence of AP was significantly higher in patients with hepatitis B (17 percent) than in patients without hepatitis B (3 percent) (p < 0.01). APACHE II was the best prognostic score system in the clinical group with a positive and negative predictive value for a score equal to or greater than 10 points of 67 and 100 percent, respectively.


Acute pancreatitis is not an uncommon complication of OLT. Clinical presentation and diagnostic tests have important prognostic values. In some patients, hepatitis B virus may play an important role. APACHE II scores appear to be useful in the evaluation of clinical AP following OLT. Treatment of AP should be similar in both the transplant and nontransplant setting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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