• Pericardial effusion as a complication of acute pancreatitis has been described in several isolated case reports. However, the prevalence of pericardial effusion in patients with acute pancreatitis has not been studied. Alcoholism and severe acute pancreatitis have been shown to cause left ventricular dysfunction. We studied 15 consecutive patients, hospitalized for the treatment of acute, alcohol-induced pancreatitis, and 28 control subjects by M-mode echocardiography to detect pericardial effusion and to assess left ventricular function. Seven patients (47%) with pancreatitis and three control subjects (11%) had pericardial effusion; the prevalence of pericardial effusion in patients with pancreatitis was significantly greater (Fisher's exact test) than in control subjects. There was no evidence of impairment of left ventricular function in the patients, all of whom had mild acute pancreatitis; the mean fractional systolic shortening of the left ventricle in patients was not significantly different from that of control subjects (38% ± 8.5% vs 37%± 8.0%), and the mean velocity of left ventricular circumferential shortening in patients was significantly higher than in control subjects (1.58 ±0.34 circumferences per second vs 1.29 ±0.32 circumferences per second). We conclude that in patients with mild acute alcohol-induced pancreatitis, pericardial effusion occurs frequently and that left ventricular function is unimpaired.
(Arch Intern Med 1987;147:923-925)