SAN DIEGO – Patients who have persistent leukocytosis (greater than 12 x 109 white blood cells per liter) or persistent systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) on the day of scheduled cholecystectomy may have unrecognized pancreatic necrosis, which increases the risk of postsurgical organ failure and infected necrosis, Dr. Wilson Kwong reported.
For these patients, “we recommend performing a contrast-enhanced CT scan on day 4 or 5 to reassess for necrosis,” Dr. Kwong of the gastroenterology department at the University California, San Diego, said in an interview. “Patients who have necrosis should undergo interval cholecystectomy instead, while those without necrosis are likely safe to proceed with laparoscopic cholecystectomy,” he added.
Guidelines recommend same-admission cholecystectomy for mild acute gallstone pancreatitis, although this approach will send some patients with unrecognized necrotizing pancreatitis to surgery, “with unknown consequences,” Dr. Kwong said at the annual Digestive Diseases Week.
To better understand presurgical predictors of necrotizing pancreatitis, Dr. Kwong and his coauthor, Dr. Santhi Swaroop Vege of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., studied 46 Mayo Clinic patients with apparent mild acute gallstone pancreatitis who in fact had necrotizing pancreatitis diagnosed during same-admission laparoscopic cholecystectomies (SALCs).
The most frequent characteristics of patients with unrecognized necrotizing pancreatitis included persistent SIRS (area under the curve, 0.96) and persistent leukocytosis (AUC, 0.92) on the day of cholecystectomy (both P less than .0001). However, 82% of patients with unrecognized necrotizing pancreatitis met criteria for SIRS by their second day in the hospital, with SIRS continuing until the day of planned cholecystectomy.
Next, the investigators compared the SALC patients with 48 patients who had necrotizing pancreatitis, but did not undergo SALC. In all, 24% of SALC patients developed new organ failure, compared with none of the comparison group (P = .0003). The SALC patients also had nearly double the rate of culture-confirmed infected necrosis (52% vs. 27%, P = .02), and stayed about 1.5 days longer in the hospital (26 vs. 24.5 days, P = .049). The chances of undergoing an intervention for necrotizing pancreatitis, conversion to open cholecystectomy, or death were slightly higher for SALC patients, compared with controls, but none of these differences reached statistical significance. Two SALC patients (4%) died, compared with 2% of patients who did not undergo SALC, the investigators reported.
The researchers also compared the SALC patients with a second control group of 48 patients who were later confirmed during SALC to have true mild acute gallstone pancreatitis. Fully 91% of patients with necrotizing pancreatitis met criteria for SIRS on the day of surgery, compared with none of the patients with acute gallstone pancreatitis (P less than .0001). Furthermore, all 11 patients with necrotizing pancreatitis and available test results had persistent leukocytosis on the day of surgery, compared with only 21% of the gallstone pancreatitis group (P less than .0001).
Finally, the researchers looked at the magnitude of the problem of unrecognized necrotizing pancreatitis. “From January 2014 to August 2015, 102 consecutive patients were directly admitted to Mayo Clinic, Rochester, with acute gallstone pancreatitis and underwent SALC,” they reported. “After laparoscopic cholecystectomy, seven of these patients were discovered to have previously unrecognized necrotizing pancreatitis, thus giving a 7% occurrence rate for this complication during this recent time period.” Accurately identifying patients with emerging necrotizing pancreatitis is crucial to help prevent potentially severe complications after SALC, they emphasized.
Dr. Kwong had no relevant financial disclosures. Dr. Vege disclosed consulting fees and other compensation from Takeda and several other companies.