A review of clinical experiences with 350 patients with acute pancreatitis and several hundred patients with other acute abdominal diseases revealed that the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis is primarily a bedside diagnosis. Laboratory aids are helpful here, yet unreliable. The mortality rate from acute pancreatitis has fallen to approximately eight per cent since the advent of better transfusion and antibacterial therapy. A recent development in the understanding of pancreatitis has been the realization that this term covers several diseases. Gallstone pancreatitis seldom leads to chronic pancreatitis and can be interrupted by definitive gallstone surgery. Alcoholic pancreatitis characteristically leads to chronic pancreatitis and responds poorly to biliary tract surgery.
John M. Howard. Surgical Management of Acute Pancreatitis. JAMA. 1960;174(13):1687–1689. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03030130015005