COVID-19, Pancreatitis Link Identified by Feinstein Institutes Researchers

Sept. 4, 2020 13:00 UTC


Retrospective observational study data of New York’s largest health system shows novel coronavirus linked to pancreatitis, reveals demographics of those most at risk


MANHASSET, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- While novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has most notably impacted the human respiratory system, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as pancreatitis have also been observed in COVID-positive patients. Data from researchers and doctors at Northwell Health and the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research supports that COVID-19 is a cause for acute pancreatitis, which is a sudden inflammation of the pancreas, and that minority populations are hit particularly hard.

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Dr. Arvind Trindade (Credit: Feinstein Institutes)

Dr. Arvind Trindade (Credit: Feinstein Institutes)

A retrospective observational cohort study published in the journal Gastroenterology, shows the results of hospitalized patients from 12 Northwell Health hospitals – New York State’s largest health system – between March 1-June 1, 2020. During the study period, 48,012 patients were hospitalized, 11,883 of whom were diagnosed with coronavirus. One hundred and eighty-nine (189) patients were identified with pancreatitis on admission, of which 17 percent (32 patients) were diagnosed with COVID-19.

For those patients not impacted by the virus, doctors were able to identify the causes of pancreatitis, which proved similar in prevalence to the general population. In 69 percent of cases for COVID-positive patients, the origins of pancreatitis were unknown, implicating COVID-19 as the cause.

“COVID-19 has been observed to impact almost every part of the body and the gastrointestinal tract is no exception,” said Arvind Trindade, MD, director of endoscopy at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park and associate professor in the Institute of Health Innovations and Outcomes Research at Feinstein. “For the first time, we are able to implicate SARS-CoV-2 in a causative role for acute pancreatitis.”

Minorities were disproportionately impacted: Hispanics were five times more likely to be COVID-19 positive among all pancreatitis patients, while Blacks were four and half times more likely to be COVID-19 positive.

The need for mechanical ventilation was higher with COVID-positive pancreatitis patients (28 percent), than those without COVID-19 (6 percent), and the length of hospitalization nearly quadrupled for those with coronavirus.

These findings support the notion that pancreatitis should be included in the list of GI manifestations of COVID-19, and clinicians should pay more attention to abdominal pain – and order the appropriate tests – for those with symptoms.

“We continue to learn more about the devastating effects COVID-19 has on the human body,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes. “Dr. Trindade’s work helps advance our understanding of the virus and what clinicians in the field need to be aware of to better treat patients.”

About the Feinstein Institutes

The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest health care provider and private employer in New York State. Home to 50 research labs, 3,000 clinical research studies and 5,000 researchers and staff, the Feinstein Institutes raises the standard of medical innovation through its five institutes of behavioral science, bioelectronic medicine, cancer, health innovations and outcomes, and molecular medicine. We make breakthroughs in genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and are the global scientific leader in bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine. For more information about how we produce knowledge to cure disease, visit and follow us on LinkedIn.


Matthew Libassi


Source: Northwell Health

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Dr. Arvind Trindade (Credit: Feinstein Institutes)

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