An endoscopic pancreatic function test with synthetic porcine secretin for the evaluation of chronic abdominal pain and suspected chronic pancreatitis

Darwin L. Conwell, Gregory Zuccaro, John J. Vargo, Patricia A. Trolli, Frederick VanLente, Nancy Obuchowski, John A. Dumot, Cathy O'Laughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Background: Pancreatic function tests are the most reliable methods for the diagnosis or exclusion of chronic pancreatitis in patients without obvious radiologic changes, but they are cumbersome, time consuming, and unavailable in clinical practice. Synthetic porcine secretin, a 27 amino acid peptide identical to the biologic form, is available for exocrine function testing. This study examined the utility of a simple, newly developed, purely endoscopic pancreatic function test with synthetic porcine secretin. Methods: Three groups of patients were studied: patients with chronic abdominal pain with and without risk factors for chronic pancreatitis, and patients with advanced chronic pancreatitis. All patients with abdominal pain had "pancreatic type" pain for greater than 6 months and negative radiographic imaging studies. All patients with chronic pancreatitis had advanced disease based on retrograde pancreatography and/or CT findings. Participants underwent the following protocol: (1) standard endoscopy to the descending duodenum with the patient under conscious sedation; (2) intravenous administration of secretin (0.2 μg/kg); (3) endoscopic duodenal fluid collection at 0, 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes after secretin injection; and (4) fluid analysis for bicarbonate concentration. Results: Eighteen patients were studied (5 abdominal pain without risk factors, 7 abdominal pain with risk factors, and 6 advanced chronic pancreatitis). Median peak (interquartile range) bicarbonate concentrations in meq/L for each group were, respectively, 87 (6, range 84-108), 72 (10, range 68-90), and 35 (27, range 18-88). Median peak bicarbonate concentration values for the 3 groups are significantly different (p = 0.010; Kruskal-Wallis test). Bicarbonate secretion in patients with chronic pancreatitis was markedly reduced compared with that in patients with abdominal pain without risk factors (p = 0.038;the Fisher exact test). The secretory function curve for patients with abdominal pain with risk factors was markedly abnormal, resembling the attenuated secretory curve seen in patients with chronic pancreatitis. The test was safe and well tolerated. Conclusions: A simple endoscopic pancreatic function test with synthetic porcine secretin appears to distinguish patients with known chronic pancreatitis from those with chronic abdominal pain without chronic pancreatitis. This simple, practical endoscopic test can be performed during upper endoscopy and may decrease the need for invasive procedures in patients with abdominal pain and normal radiographic imaging studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-40
Number of pages4
JournalGastrointestinal Endoscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this research was provided by an educational grant from Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Marietta, Georgia.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology


Dive into the research topics of 'An endoscopic pancreatic function test with synthetic porcine secretin for the evaluation of chronic abdominal pain and suspected chronic pancreatitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this