Acute pancreatitis is secondary to cholelithiasis or alcohol abuse in up to 90 percent of cases in the United States, but the etiology varies in different countries. 1 The overall prevalence is estimated to be 0.5 percent, but this also depends on the setting and patient population. Patients with biliary pancreatitis are more commonly female, over 50 years of age, and represent the most common form of pancreatitis in a community hospital setting. Alcoholic pancreatitis presents more frequently to urban emergency departments and is seen most commonly in men between the ages of 35 and 45.2

The list of other factors associated with the development of acute pancreatitis is extensive, including drugs, infection, inflammation, trauma, and metabolic disturbances (T.§b,!§..,.83.:l). Drugs account for up to half of the remaining cases after alcohol and biliary diseases have been excluded ( T.able...,§3:2).

TABLE B3-1 Etiologic or Contributing Factors in Acute Pancreatitis

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