Secretin stimulation test

Also known as: Pancreatic function test

Definition

The secretin stimulation test measures the ability of the pancreas to respond to a hormone called secretin. The small intestine produces secretin when partially digested food into the area from the stomach.

How the test is performed

The doctor inserts a tube through your nose and into your stomach. The tube is then moved into the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). You are give secretin through a vein (intravenously). The contents of the material released from the pancreas into the duodenum are removed through the tube over the next 1 - 2 hours.

How to prepare for the test

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

How the test will feel

You may have a gagging feeling as the tube is inserted.

Why the test is performed

Secretin causes the pancreas to release a fluid that contains digestive enzymes. These enzymes break down food and help the body absorb nutrients.

The secretin stimulation test is done to check the digestive function of the pancreas. The following diseases may prevent the pancreas from working properly: 

In these conditions, there may be a lack of digestive enzymes or other chemicals in the fluid that comes from the pancreas. This can reduce the body's ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.

Normal Values

Normal value ranges may vary slightly depending on the lab doing the test. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal values may mean that the pancreas is not working properly.

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.

References

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 142.

Rao SSC. Pancreatic secretion. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 56.

Review date:
August 10, 2012
Reviewed by:
George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.
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