Crohn's disease, a transmural inflammatory bowel disease, has many well-known extra-intestinal manifestations and complications. Although acute pancreatitis has a higher incidence in patients with Crohn's disease as compared to the general population, acute pancreatitis is still relatively uncommon in patients with Crohn's disease. Patients with Crohn's disease are at an approximately fourfold higher risk than the general population to develop acute pancreatitis. The risk of developing acute pancreatitis is higher in females as compared to males. Acute pancreatitis can occur at any age with higher incidence reported in patients in their 20s and between 40- 50 years of age. The severity and prognosis of acute pancreatitis in patients with Crohn's disease is the same as in general population. Acute pancreatitis can occur before onset of intestinal Crohn's disease, this presentation being more common in children than adults. It can also occur as the presenting symptom. However, most commonly it occurs after intestinal symptoms have manifest with a mean time interval between the initial presentation and development of acute pancreatitis being 2 years. There are several etiological factors contributing to acute pancreatitis in patients with crohn's disease. It is not clear whether acute pancreatitis is a direct extra-intestinal manifestation of Crohn's disease; however majority of the cases of acute pancreatitis in patients with Crohn's disease are due to GS and medications. Drugs used for the treatment of Crohn's disease that have been reported to cause acute pancreatitis include 5-ASA agents, azathioprine and 6 mercaptopurine, metornidazole and corticosteroids. Recent evidence has emerged correlating both type 1 and 2 autoimmune pancreatitis with Crohn's disease. Understanding the association between the two disease entities is key to effectively manage patients with Crohn's disease and acute pancreatitis.
Sarfaraz Jasdanwala, Mark Babyatsky