A patient with severe acute pancreatitis may suffer sudden death.

Patient selection: acute pancreatitis


Risk factors for acute pancreatitis may include:

(1) alcohol abuse

(2) abdominal trauma

(3) drug- or toxin-induced pancreatitis

(4) gallstones

(5) ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)


The cause of death may be:

(1) severe hemorrhagic pancreatitis with shock

(2) diffuse intravascular coagulopathy (DIC)

(3) sepsis


Findings supportive of the diagnosis:

(1) evidence of extensive pancreatic inflammation AND fat necrosis

(2) markedly elevated levels of amylase and lipase


Differential diagnosis:

(1) post-mortem autolysis of the pancreas (which may show fat necrosis)

(2) other causes of sudden death

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