Two cases of thoracopancreatic fistula in alcoholic pancreatitis: Clinical and CT findings

Hisao Ito, Nobumichi Matsubara, Toshihiko Sakai, Noboru Aso, Masahiro Kitami, Schu ichi Ono, Tadashi Ishibashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


We report two patients who were long-time habitual consumers of alcohol and suffered from thoracopancreatic fistula. The first patient, a 52-year-old man with no symptoms, underwent chest CT scan for a medical check-up and was revealed to have left small pleural effusion. A month later, he suddenly experienced severe cough and back pain. The immediate CT scan showed massive pleural effusion and mediastinal pseudocyst, and the amylase level in the aspirated pleural effusion proved to be elevated. He was successfully treated with medication and drainage of the effusion. The second patient, a 39-year-old woman, underwent CT scan for a medical check-up, and it disclosed that she had a small pleural effusion in the left lower thorax. Follow-up CT two months later revealed the pleural effusion to be resolved, however, it demonstrated that a narrow tract derived from the pancreatic secretion located just posterior to the pancreatic tail extended to the mediastinum along the left hemidiaphragmatic crus. She experienced severe cough and sputum four months later. CT scan showed massive pleural effusion in the left thorax and revealed that the pancreaticopleural fistula was located in the same position as the small tract that had been detected by the previous CT scan. The patient received conservative treatment and eventually recovered from the severe chest complications. We consider that asymptomatic left small pleural effusion in these patients who were habitual drinkers is a potential precursor to symptomatic pancreatitis. The patients developed mediastinal pseudocyst and pancreaticopleural fistula in association with chronic pancreatitis within a few months, and therefore intensive follow-up should be undertaken to minimize or prevent chest complications in association with the subsequent symptomatic pancreatitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-211
Number of pages5
JournalRadiation Medicine - Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholic pancreatitis
  • CT
  • Pleural effusion
  • Thoracopancreatic fistula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Oncology


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