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Secretin stimulation test

 

Definition

The secretin stimulation test measures the ability of the pancreas to respond to a hormone called secretin. Secretin is produced by the small intestine when partially digested food has moved into the area from the stomach.

Alternative Names

Pancreatic function test

How the test is performed

A tube is inserted through the nose and into the stomach, then into the the first part of the small intestine ( duodenum). Secretin is given through this tube. Then, over the next 2 hours or so, the contents of the material released from the duodenum are removed through the tube.

How to prepare for the test

You will be asked to not eat or drink anything, including water, for 12 hours prior to the test.

How the test will feel

You may experience a gagging sensation as the tube is inserted.

Why the test is performed

Secretin normally causes the pancreas to release a fluid containing digestive enzymes. These enzymes break down food and help in the absorption of nutrients.

The secretin stimulation test is done to check the function of the pancreas in digestion. People with diseases involving the pancreas may have abnormal pancreatic function. Such diseases include chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, and pancreatic cancer.

In people with cystic fibrosis, the pancreas may form mucus plugs. These plugs block the ducts that lead from the pancreas into the small intestine. This prevents the food acidity from being neutralized, and ultimately reduces the ability of the body to digest food and absorb nutrients.

Normal Values
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What abnormal results mean

Abnormal values may indicate cystic fibrosis or chronic pancreatitis.

What the risks are

There is a slight risk of the tube being placed through the windpipe and into the lungs, instead of through the esophagus and into the stomach. The health care provider will be sure the tube is correctly placed before continuing with the test.

Special considerations

References

Jensen RT. Pancreatic endocrine tumors. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 205.

Semrad CE, Powell DW. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 143.


Review Date: 11/2/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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