Table 4
Author, date and countryPatient groupStudy type (level of evidence)OutcomesKey resultsStudy weaknesses
Steinberg WM et al, 1985, USA39 patients with pancreatitis were compared with 127 controls with abdominal painDiagnostic studySensitivity and specificity of two amylase serum assays for pancreatitis. Using upper limit of normal. Using best cut offAmylase 1 = sensitivity 94.9% specificity 88.9%. Amylase 2 = sensitivity 94.9% specificity 86.0%.Various techniques used to confirm diagnosis including CT scans, laparotomy, USS scans
Amylase 1 = sensitivity 94.8% specificity 98.4% Amylase 2 = sensitivity 92.3% specificity 100%Patients referred to gastroenterology team with diagnosis based on serum amylase result
Lin XZ et al, 1989, Taiwan62 consecutive patients with image verified pancreatitits, and 414 patients with an acute abdomenDiagnostic studySensitivity and specificity of serum amylase at selected cut off three times above upper limit of normalSensitivity of serum amylase: 84% in image proven pancreatitis 92% in patients with or without image verified diseaseProblems with gold standard diagnosis of pancreatitis
Serum amylase used in diagnosis
Various gold standards used within the study
Clavien PA et al, 1989, Canada352 consecutive attacks of acute pancreatitis in 318 patientsDiagnostic studySensitivity and specificity of serum amylase (<160 IU/l) compared with gold standards of CT or laparotomySensitivity of 81% at presentationChronic pancreatitis patients were excluded
Winslet M et al, 1992, UK417 patients with acute pancreatitisDiagnostic studySensitivity of serum amylase (>1000 IU) for detecting acute pancreatitis at hospital admissionMild cases 96.1%. Severe cases 87.4%. Alcohol subgroup 86%Variable gold standards used
Sensitivity of serum amylase (>1000 IU) for detecting acute pancreatitis at 48 hoursMild cases 33.3% Severe cases 48.2%. Alcohol subgroup 76%.Not all patients had CT