BACKGROUND: Measuring serum pancreatitis associated protein (PAP) in acute pancreatitis has proved valuable to monitoring the course of the disease and the recovery of the patient. AIMS: The aim was to analyze the utility of PAP on admission as a diagnostic and prognostic marker of acute pancreatitis. PATIENTS: Values of PAP were prospectively analyzed in 80 healthy volunteers, 164 patients with abdominal pain but without pancreatitis, 109 patients with mild acute pancreatitis, and 38 patients with severe acute pancreatitis. METHODS: The diagnosis of acute pancreatitis was verified with clinical, laboratory, radiological, and in some cases findings at operation or necropsy. RESULTS: Mean (95% confidence intervals) serum PAP values were 27 (24 to 29) micrograms/l in healthy volunteers, 78 (59 to 96) micrograms/l in patients with abdominal pain, 191 (134 to 247) micrograms/l, in patients with mild acute pancreatitis, and 599 (284 to 914) micrograms/l in patients with severe acute pancreatitis. Differences between the groups were significant (p = 0.04 - 0.01). Despite the differences in means, the ranges overlapped between the groups. The sensitivity of PAP on admission to detect acute pancreatitis was 38%-53% and the respective specificity 89%-77% depending on the cut off level. The sensitivity of PAP to detect severe acute pancreatitis was 45%-68% and the specificity 74%-59% depending on the cut off level. CONCLUSIONS: Admission PAP did not distinguish severe from mild acute pancreatitis better than C reactive protein. Measurement of PAP does not give appreciable diagnostic advantages in the early phase of acute pancreatitis.
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