Utility of the computed tomography severity index (Balthazar score) in children with acute pancreatitis

Timothy B. Lautz, Gary Turkel, Jayant Radhakrishnan, Mary Wyers, Anthony C. Chin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: Previous studies in children with acute pancreatitis have demonstrated that clinical scoring systems such as the Ranson, modified Glasgow, and pediatric acute pancreatitis scores are of value in predicting severity of the disease. The aim of this study was to determine the predictive value of the computed tomography severity index (CTSI or Balthazar score) in pediatric patients. Methods: All children (≤18 years) admitted to our institution with acute pancreatitis from 2000 through 2009 were reviewed. Contrast-enhanced computed tomographic (CT) images at presentation were retrospectively reviewed by 2 pediatric radiologists. Peripancreatic fluid and the extent of necrosis were assessed to determine the CTSI. The predictive value of the CTSI was calculated and compared with clinical scoring systems. Results: Of 211 children with acute pancreatitis, 64 underwent contrast-enhanced CT at presentation. The median age was 12.3 years. Etiology of pancreatitis was idiopathic (35.9%), gallstone (17.2%), medication-induced (20.3%), posttransplant (9.4%), traumatic (6.3%), structural (1.6%), and other (9.4%). The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of the CTSI (using a cutoff score of 4+) were 81%, 76%, 62%, and 90%, respectively, which compared favorably to the results of the pediatric acute pancreatitis (53%, 72%, 41%, 80%), Ranson (71%, 87%, 67%, 89%), and modified Glasgow (71%, 87%, 67%, 89%) scores. Conclusion: The CTSI is superior to clinical scoring systems for identifying children with acute pancreatitis at heightened risk for developing serious complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1191
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Balthazar score
  • CT severity index
  • Computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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