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Calcitonin precursors in the prediction of severity of acute pancreatitis on the day of admission

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Calcitonin precursors are sensitive markers of inflammation and infection. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of plasma calcitonin precursor levels on the day of admission in the prediction of severity of acute pancreatitis, and to compare this with the Acute Physiology And Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II scoring system.


Plasma concentrations of calcitonin precursors were determined on admission in 69 patients with acute pancreatitis. APACHE II scores were calculated on admission. Attacks were classified as mild (n = 55) or severe (n = 14) according to the Atlanta criteria. Plasma calcitonin precursor levels were determined with a sensitive radioimmunoassay.


On the day of hospital admission, plasma levels of calcitonin precursors were significantly greater in patients with a severe attack compared with levels in those with a mild attack of pancreatitis (median 64 versus 25 fmol/ml; P = 0·014), but the APACHE II scores were no different (median 9 versus 8; P = 0·2). The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive and negative predictive values, and accuracy for the prediction of severe acute pancreatitis were 67, 89, 57, 93 and 85 per cent respectively for plasma calcitonin precursor levels higher than 48 fmol/ml, and 69, 45, 23, 86 and 50 per cent respectively for an APACHE II score greater than 7. Differences in the specificity and accuracy of the two prognostic indicators were significant (P < 0·001 and P = 0·001 respectively). A plasma calcitonin precursor concentration of more than 160 fmol/ml on admission was highly accurate (94 per cent) in predicting the development of septic complications and death.


The assay of plasma calcitonin precursors on the day of admission to hospital has the potential to provide a more accurate prediction of the severity of acute pancreatitis than the APACHE II scoring system. Copyright © 2003 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Surgery, University of Leeds and Centre for Digestive Diseases, The General Infirmary, Leeds, UK 2: George Washington University and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA 3: Department of Microbiology, The General Infirmary, Leeds, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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