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.
Pancreatic function test
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.
You will be asked to not eat or drink anything, including water, for 12 hours prior to the test.
You may experience a gagging sensation as the tube is inserted.
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.
Abnormal values may indicate cystic fibrosis or chronic pancreatitis.
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.
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
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