Secretin Stimulation Test

Submitted by Medical Health Test Team on October 19, 2012

Secretin is a hormone, produced in the small intestine. It is produced when partially digested food moves into the small intestine from the stomach. Secretin stimulates the pancreas to release certain digestive enzymes, which help in breaking down the food, and in absorbing the nutrients.

This test is done to check the efficiency of the pancreas, and to see whether they are releasing enzymes in response to the secretin released in the small intestines.

It is usually ordered when some abnormality, malfunction or disease such as cancer, chronic pancreatitis, or cystic fibrosis is suspected in the pancreas.

A cystic fibrosis may form a mucus plug in the pancreas, thus blocking the ducts leading from the pancreas to the small intestine. This prevents the digestive enzymes from reaching the intestines, causing reduced digestion and absorption of foods.


  • A tube will be inserted through the nose, going down to the stomach. This is then gradually pushed down till it reaches the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine)
  • Small doses of secretin are now given through the tube.
  • Over a period of 2 hours, the food contents of the duodenum are taken out through the tube.
  • This is tested to find out if the secretin has been able to reach the pancreas, and stimulate it to produce their digestive hormones.

You will have to stop all food and drink (even water) 12 hours before the test. You may experience an uncomfortable gagging sensation when the tube is inserted. There is a small risk that the tube may wrongly go through the windpipe into the lungs, and not through the esophagus into the stomach.

What is Gastrinoma

The secretin stimulation test may also show up a gastrinoma. A gastrinoma is a tumor which secretes a hormone called gastrin.

Gastrinoma tumors are usually associated with a gastroenterological disorder called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES). These tumors occur mainly in the duodenum and pancreas. They secrete an enzyme called gastrin, which triggers off greater production of gastric acid, which leads to ulcers.

A person suffering from Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome may have one or more gastrinomas, which may be malignant or benign.


Symptoms of gastrinoma could be:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting blood
  • Ulcers in the stomach and bowel

If you have these symptoms, your doctor may order a Secretin Stimulation test.

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