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The secretin-pancreozymin test is regarded as the most accurate of the pancreatic exocrine function tests but is cumbersome, time consuming, and invasive because it requires duodenal intubation and hormonal stimulation of the pancreas. Fecal analysis of fat, fecal elastase, or chymotrypsin are more practicable but far less sensitive to detect early stages of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. Several (13)C-labeled substrates that are digested by pancreatic enzymes have been proposed for breath tests, thus assessing the intraluminal activity of pancreatic enzymes and therewith the pancreatic exocrine function. Particularly in pediatrics, (13)C breath tests are suited not only for diagnosis of pancreatic exocrine disorder, but also for therapy control under pancreatic enzyme substitution. However, the costs of substrates, the high time expenditure, and the lack of standardization still limit the clinical use of these breath tests. This review aims to place into perspective the traditional pancreatic exocrine function tests and the newer (13)C breath tests.

Citation

Barbara Braden. 13)C breath tests for the assessment of exocrine pancreatic function. Pancreas. 2010 Oct;39(7):955-9

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PMID: 20861695

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