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
How the test is performed
A tube is inserted through the nose and into the stomach, then into the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). Secretin is given through a vein (intravenously). Then, over the next 1 - 2 hours, the contents of the material released from the pancreas into 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 before 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 the body absorb nutrients.
The secretin stimulation test is done to check the digestive function of the pancreas. People with diseases involving the pancreas may have abnormal pancreatic function. Such diseases include:
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 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 mean there is pancreatic insufficiency.
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.
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.
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.
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.