In the United States, of the approximately 210 000 patients admitted
to hospitals each year with acute pancreatitis,1 about
20% have severe acute pancreatitis (SAP), and primary care physicians and
internists are often the first clinicians to care for these patients. In contrast
to mild acute pancreatitis, which has a mortality rate of less than 1%,2 the death rate for SAP is much higher: 10% with sterile
and 25% with infected pancreatic necrosis.3 Hospitalization
for patients with SAP may extend beyond 2 weeks and frequently involves an
intensive care unit (ICU) stay.
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