Pancreatitis, Acute

  • Christoph K. Weber
  • Richard Lorenz
Reference work entry

Definition and Characteristics

Acute pancreatitis (AP) is characterized by a rapid onset of inflammation of the pancreas. The disease is mainly associated with biliary duct obstruction or alcohol consumption. Rare causes of AP include drugs, hypercalcemia, hyperlipidemia, trauma, endoscopic interventions, autoimmune response, infections or genetic predisposition. In up to 25% the cause cannot be determined. In about 80% of the cases inflammation is limited to the pancreatic gland resulting in mild pancreatitis with little mortality. Severe pancreatitis usually includes necrosis of pancreatic tissue with a generalized inflammatory state involving failure of distant organ systems such as kidney, lungs and liver.


The prevalence in Europe and the USA of acute pancreatitis is constantly increasing and reaches about 24–75 cases per 100,000 adults [1].


Genetic alterations have been identified in the context of chronic or recurrent acute pancreatitis, i.e., patients suffering...

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    Yadav D, Lowenfels AB (2006) Trends in the epidemiology of the first attack of acute pancreatitis: a systematic review. Pancreas 33:323–330PubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Ohmuraya M, Hirota M, Araki M, Mizushima N, Matsui M, Mizumoto T, Haruna K, Kume S, Takeya M, Ogawa M, Araki K, Yamamura K (2005) Autophagic cell death of pancreatic acinar cells in serine protease inhibitor kazal type 3 – deficient mice. Gastroenterology 129:696–705PubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Weber CK, Adler G (2003) Acute pancreatitis. Curr Opin Gastroenterol 19:447–450PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph K. Weber
    • 1
  • Richard Lorenz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GastroenterologyKlinik SonnenhofBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineUlm UniversityUlmGermany