Introduction: Gallstones are the most common cause of acute pancreatitis worldwide. Patients with severe acute biliary pancreatitis (SABP) constitute a subgroup of severe acute pancreatitis (SAP) patients in whom systemic inflammation may be triggered and perpetuated by different mechanisms. The aim of this prospective investigation was to examine the adrenal response to corticotropin and the relationship between adrenal function and outcome in patients with SABP. Methods: Thirty-two patients with SABP were enrolled in this study. A short corticotropin (250 μg) stimulation test (SST) was performed within the first 24 hours of admission to the ICU. Critical illness related corticosteroid insufficiency (CIRCI) was defined as follows: baseline value less than 10 μg/dL, or cortisol response less than 9 μg/dL. Results: CIRCI occurred in 34.4% of patients. The patients with CIRCI were more severely ill as evidenced by higher APACHE II and SOFA scores and numbers of organ system dysfunction on the day of SST. The in-hospital mortality for the entire group was 21.9%. The CIRCI group had a higher hospital mortality rate compared to those with normal adrenal function (45.5% vs. 9.5%, P = 0.032). The hospital survivors had a higher cortisol response to corticotropin (17.4 (8.3-27.1) vs. 7.2 (1.7-12) μg/dL, P = 0.019). The cortisol response to corticotropin inversely correlated with SOFA score and the number of organ dysfunction on the day of SST. The rates of pancreatic necrosis and bacteremia were significantly higher in the CIRCI group (100% vs 42.9%, P = 0.002; 81.8% vs 23.8%, P = 0.003, respectively). Conclusions: CIRCI is common in patients with SABP. It is associated with bacteremia, multiple organ dysfunction and increased mortality.
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