Different Types of Pancreatic Function Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

The pancreas is a vital organ in the human body. It is a gland which secretes hormones that control various functions in the body. It is also responsible for pancreatic juice which is a digestive aid that is passed into the digestive tract to help with the breaking down of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The pancreas is situated in the abdominal cavity and sits below the stomach. Because it is vital in digestion, injury or infection that occurs to the pancreas is considered to be extremely dangerous and must be attended to immediately.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer with an extremely low rate of patient survival. The pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin, somatostatin and glucagon which are important hormones in the human body.

The pancreas is an organ that plays a significant role in the performance of the digestive tract within the body. It is responsible for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and does this with the help of digestive juices that are present within the organ as well as a certain proportion of juices that are created by the intestines. As with any cancer, the development of abnormal cells within the organ will start to have an adverse effect on the overall functionality of the organ. This would cause a lot of internal damage making tests for pancreatic cancer a necessity.

This is because just like with any medical complication, performing a medical test will play a vital role in the diagnosis of the condition as well as helping the medical staff and the patient have a better understanding of how serious the condition is. Performing tests for pancreatic cancer is a very important part of the diagnostic process and is really the only mode of confirmation that the condition has developed. Blood tests for pancreas are usually performed when some of the more common symptoms of the condition are seen. Affected individuals will usually show symptoms of pain, nausea, vomiting, jaundice or weakness in addition to almost debilitating abdominal pain.

There are a number of different tests for pancreatic cancer that will be chosen from on the basis of preference of the doctor as well as variant of the condition.

Tests For Detecting Pancreatic Cancer

Secretin Pancreatic Function Test

Secretin pancreatic function test is a test that is primarily focused on the hormone 'secretin' that triggers the secretion of a fluid that neutralizes stomach acids and assists in digestion. The test is carried out by the doctor or nurse guiding a tube down the throat and till it reaches the stomach before it is guided into the upper part of the small intestine. A small amount of secretin is then administered before any secretions from the duodenal region are removed through a suction process and then examined for over 2 hours.

Endoscopic Pancreatic Function Test

In the endoscopic pancreatic function test, a probe with an attached light on the head is guided down the throat and into the stomach. Sound waves are emitted from the probe in order to generate images on a monitor in front of the doctor in the operating theater. This method of detecting pancreatitis can also help reveal the presence of gallstones in an effort to prevent invasive methods such as ERCP from making the condition worse. The probe used for this test is also capable of retrieving samples of tissue from the organ thereby allowing for a biopsy method of further diagnosis as well.

Pancreas Blood Test Levels and Results

A patient may suffer from many symptoms associated either with the hormones produced in the pancreas or with the functioning of the digestive system. In either case a pancreas blood test may be ordered to diagnose the problem. In such a situation the blood test for pancreas will check the levels of various hormones as well as the digestive enzymes that are produced by the pancreas. A deviation of these levels from the normal range can indicate the presence of a problem related to the pancreas.

Some of the other methods of pancreas blood tests for diabetes as well as other causing factors will all be governed by their own pancreas blood test levels as well as pancreas blood test results. Before undergoing any of these pancreas tests, it is important to make it a point to consult your doctor and identify if any medications of even lifestyle choices are likely to manipulate the test results.

When it comes to pancreatic cancer most people are affected by a cancer is known as adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. This variety of cancer is known to be one of the most aggressive of all cancers. Recent studies have shown that about thirty thousand individuals are diagnosed with the condition on a yearly basis and more than 90% of these people eventually succumb to the disease. While a family history of the condition definitely puts some individuals at a greater risk than others, certain lifestyle factors also contribute to the development of the condition such as an advancing age, smoking and diabetes mellitus. In depth research on the subject has also shown that males tend to be slightly more prone to the condition than women at a ratio of about 1.3:1. It is necessary to begin treatment for the condition as soon as the condition is detected.

Test For Checking The Functionality of Pancreas

There are many tests that could check the functioning of the pancreas apart from a simple blood test. Fecal matter can be tested for a digestive enzyme known as elastase. One may also use the secretin stimulation test as a pancreas function test. Secretin is found in the upper part of the small intestine and this substance stimulates the release of bicarbonates from the pancreas.

During such a test, an endoscope will be inserted till it reaches the small intestine and secretin will be introduced to the area known as the duodenum. This should stimulate the pancreatic secretions. Within a period of about two hours, the area is drained of its fluid by aspiration. This type of testing for pancreas irregularities will show whether the pancreas is responding properly in terms of its digestive function. Other testing could be performed in order to visually check the pancreas. An ultrasound test can show if there is any inflammation or change in the size of the pancreas that is unexpected. It could also reveal a problem of fluid accumulation around the pancreas. When pancreatic cancer is suspected, a biopsy of the pancreas may be performed to confirm this.