OBJECTIVES: The early identification of clinically severe acute pancreatitis (AP) is critical for the triage and treatment of patients. The aim of this study was to compare the accuracy of computed tomography (CT) and clinical scoring systems for predicting the severity of AP on admission. METHODS: Demographic, clinical, and laboratory data of all consecutive patients with a primary diagnosis of AP during a two-and-half-year period was prospectively collected for this study. A retrospective analysis of the abdominal CT data was performed. Seven CT scoring systems (CT severity index (CTSI), modified CT severity index (MCTSI), pancreatic size index (PSI), extrapancreatic score (EP), "extrapancreatic inflammation on CT" score (EPIC), "mesenteric oedema and peritoneal fluid" score (MOP), and Balthazar grade) as well as two clinical scoring systems: Acute Physiology, Age, and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE)-II and Bedside Index for Severity in AP (BISAP) were comparatively evaluated with regard to their ability to predict the severity of AP on admission (first 24 h of hospitalization). Clinically severe AP was defined as one or more of the following: mortality, persistent organ failure and/or the presence of local pancreatic complications that require intervention. All CT scans were reviewed in consensus by two radiologists, each blinded to patient outcome. The accuracy of each imaging and clinical scoring system for predicting the severity of AP was assessed using receiver operating curve analysis. RESULTS: Of 346 consecutive episodes of AP, there were 159 (46%) episodes in 150 patients (84 men, 66 women; mean age, 54 years; age range, 21-91 years) who were evaluated with a contrast-enhanced CT scan (n=131 episodes) or an unenhanced CT scan (n=28 episodes) on the first day of admission. Clinically severe AP was diagnosed in 29/159 (18%) episodes; 9 (6%) patients died. Overall, the Balthazar grading system (any CT technique) and CTSI (contrast-enhanced CT only) demonstrated the highest accuracy among the CT scoring systems for predicting severity, but this was not statistically significant. There were no statistically significant differences between the predictive accuracies of CT and clinical scoring systems. CONCLUSIONS: The predictive accuracy of CT scoring systems for severity of AP is similar to clinical scoring systems. Hence, a CT on admission solely for severity assessment in AP is not recommended.
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