PANCREATITIS OR NOT? – Elevated lipase and amylase in ICU patients☆

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Abstract

Elevation in serum levels of pancreatic enzymes (Hyperamylasemia and/or Hyperlipasemia) can occur in any Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patient either as a result of true acute pancreatitis (AP) or as a reflection of a non-pancreatic disease. Although most patients may not have clinical pancreatitis, identifying true acute pancreatitis in the ICU setting may be critical in the presence of associated co-morbid conditions of the disease for which the patient is being managed. With neither amylase nor lipase being specific for pancreatitis, it is important for the clinician to be aware of different causes of hyperamylasemia and hyperlipasemia, especially when clinical diagnosis of pancreatitis is unclear. This review will focus on understanding different non-pancreatic conditions where there is elevation of pancreatitis enzymes and to identify true acute pancreatitis in critically ill patients without typical symptoms.

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