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Elevation of pancreatic enzymes is often observed in patients admitted to intensive care units in the United States. Elevated pancreatic enzymes can occur due to acute pancreatitis or numerous non-specific reasons. Non-specific enzyme elevation can be seen in patients with head injury, acute renal failure, diabetic ketoacidosis or patients on hemodialysis. Patients with severe acute pancreatitis can be admitted to the intensive care units for intensive care or patients admitted to the intensive care units for other critical illness can develop acute pancreatitis due to a variety of reasons like ischemia, hypoperfusion, drugs or hypercalcemia. It can be a challenging task to distinguish between acute pancreatitis and non-specific enzyme elevation, especially in critically ill patients with multiple co-morbidities admitted to the intensive care units in whom historical information may not be always available. In addition, the clinical consequences of pancreatic enzyme elevation in the critically ill patients are also not very clear. This review attempts to describe the complex interplay of various factors that can lead to either pancreatic inflammation and/or pancreatic enzyme elevation in the critically ill patients along with the clinical consequences and approach to patient with pancreatic enzyme elevation in the intensive care units.
Amylases, Critical Care, Intensive Care Units, Lipase, Pancreatitis