Infected pancreatic necrosis and sepsis are the leading causes of death in patients with necrotizing pancreatitis. Between 1986 and 1993, 123 patients with infected pancreatic necrosis were treated; in all cases the infected necrosis extended to the retroperitoneal area. Surgical treatment was performed a mean of 18.5 days after the onset of acute pancreatitis. Operative management consisted of wide-ranging necrosectomy through all the affected area, combined with continuous widespread lavage and suction drainage applied for a mean of 39.5 days, with a median of 6.5 litres of normal saline per day. In 56 cases (46 per cent), another surgical intervention (distal pancreatic resection, splenectomy, cholecystectomy, sphincteroplasty or colonic resection) was also performed. Bacteriological findings revealed mainly enteric bacteria, but Candida infection was detected in 21 per cent of patients. The overall hospital mortality rate was 7 per cent (nine patients died). Infected pancreatic necrosis responds well to aggressive surgical treatment, continuous, longstanding lavage and suction drainage, together with supportive therapy combined with adequate antibiotic and antifungal medication.
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