Comparison of ultrasound and serum amylase in the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis

Manoharan G. V., Maharaja P.


Background: Acute pancreatitis is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas. Though, severe acute pancreatitis constitutes 15-20% of all cases of pancreatitis, in recent times, mortality rate of severe acute pancreatitis has reduced from 30-80% to 15-20%. Ultrasound is the first imaging modality in most centres for the preliminary screening of an acute abdomen.

Methods: In this prospective study between October 2017 to March 2019, 113 patients with clinical signs and symptoms of acute pancreatitis were screened with an ultrasonogram of the abdomen and serum amylase in the emergency room. Patients also underwent a complete physical exam.

Results: In our study 38.9% of patients were in the age group of 45-55 years, 25% in the 35-45 age group and 20.4% in the 55 to 70 age group. 92.9% of the patients were men. 89.4% of the participants had a history of alcoholism. Only 37.2% of the participants who were clinically positive for acute pancreatitis, also showed USG findings for acute pancreatitis while 69% of the clinically positive patients showed serum amylase level positive for acute pancreatitis.

Conclusions: Ultrasonogram though cheap and easily available is not ideal for the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis. As shown in the study serum amylase is able to detect nearly twice as many cases of pancreatitis compared to ultrasonogram. The sensitivity and specificity of ultrasonography to detect acute pancreatitis is too low to use as a diagnostic test but it is a valuable tool in the evaluation of an acute abdomen.


Acute pancreatitis, Ultrasound, Serum amylase, Diagnostic accuracy

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