BACKGROUND The treatment of acute pancreatitis (AP) induced by hypertriglyceridemia (HTG) remains controversial with regard to plasmapheresis vs conventional treatment. We reviewed relevant articles to explore the efficacy of plasmapheresis in the management of HTG-induced AP. METHODS We systematically reviewed studies that compared plasmapheresis with conventional treatment for HTG-induced AP using three databases: PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library, as well
as relevant references. The primary outcomes were 24 h triglyceride reduction rate and in-hospital mortality. RESULTS A total of 791 articles were retrieved. Finally, 15 observational studies (1080 participants) were included, most of which were historical cohort studies. Compared with conventional treatment, plasmapheresis assisted in the reduction of serum triglyceride (TG) levels in the first 24 h after hospital admission (standardized mean difference [SMD]: 0.58; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.17 to 0.99; P = 0.005). However, it resulted in increased hospitalization costs (thousand yuan) (weighted mean difference [WMD]: 24.32; 95% CI: 12.96 to 35.68; P < 0.001). With regard to in-hospital mortality, although the mortality rate in the plasmapheresis group was higher than that in the conventional treatment group (relative risk [RR]: 1.74; 95% CI: 1.03 to 2.94; P = 0.038), the result was disturbed by confounding factors as per the subgroup and sensitivity analysis, as well as trial sequential analysis (TSA). No significant differences were found in other outcomes, including systematic complications, local complications, the requirement for surgery, and hospitalization duration. CONCLUSION The effect of plasmapheresis in HTG-induced AP is not superior to that of conventional treatment, even resulting in a greater economic burden to patients and health care system. High quality randomized control trials are required to obtain a more a definitive understanding of this issue.