Pancreatitis is not uncommon and The British Journal of Surgery Society reports that there is a wide range (5-50 per 100 000) in the reported annual incidence of acute pancreatitis. However there are a wide range of causes from a minor infection to cancer with the most common being due to Gallstones or alcohol. There are many causes for pancreatitis and makes it very difficult to discuss the treatment and outcome of an attack. The statistics associated with pancreatitis usually include every cause.
Our doctors are very good at justifying the treatment they provide and we as patients are usually very grateful. However, they do appear to overplay the emotional side. The chances of dying from the operation to remove the gallbladder can be greater and these deaths may be recorded incorrectly as being attributable to pancreatitis rather than the operation.
A retrospective study carried out in the UK of all cases of acute pancreatitis admitted over a 10-year period was carried out. In addition the autopsy and forensic materials were reviewed. The annual incidence of first attacks was 23ē4 per 100 000. Biliary disease was the main factor in first attacks whereas alcohol was the predominant factor when relapses were included.
The annual mortality rate for acute pancreatitis in the population was 1ē3 per 100 000. In 12 of the 31 patients who died over the 10 year period had pancreatic cancer. Some people had other causes and complication not directly attributable to gallstones. Consequently the chances of actually dying directly from pancreatitis caused by Gallstones are incredibly small.
The attacks are very painful; described as the worst pain that can be experienced.