Objective: Hormonal stimulation with secretin or cholecystokinin (CCK) is the most sensitive means of assessing pancreatic function. Secretin is not available, and current CCK tests are cumbersome, requiring dual tube intubation and marker perfusion techniques. The aim of this study was to test the efficacy of a new CCK-stimulated pancreatic function test measuring peak lipase concentration.
Methods: A Dreiling gastroduodenal tube was inserted to the ligament of Treitz, and fluid was collected on ice for 80 min in four 20-min aliquots. CCK was infused i.v. at a constant rate of 40 ng/kg/h. Gastric aspirations were discarded. Duodenal aspirates were analyzed for volume and enzyme concentration with a clinical laboratory autoanalyzer.
Results: Nineteen healthy volunteers and 18 chronic pancreatitis patients were studied. Lipase concentration and secretory volume showed a peak response by 40 min of stimulation, whereas amylase response was variable. The mean peak lipase concentrations (+/-SEM) for normal volunteers and mild, moderate, and advanced chronic pancreatitis patients were 16.9+/-1.9, 7.9+/-1.7, 3.7+/-1.2, and 2.1+/-0.6 x 10 5 IU/L, respectively. Lower peak lipase concentrations were significantly associated with more advanced chronic pancreatitis (p < 0.001). The receiver operating characteristic curve area for all chronic pancreatitis patients was 0.944 (95% CI = 0.825-0.985). A peak lipase concentration of 780,000 IU/L provided a sensitivity and specificity of 0.833 and 0.867, respectively. This CCK test was well tolerated and without complications.
Conclusions: Lipase concentration in duodenal fluid increases nearly 3-fold from baseline after CCK stimulation in healthy volunteers but is markedly reduced in patients with chronic pancreatic disease. Peak lipase concentration is a significant predictor of chronic pancreatitis and correlates with severity of pancreatic disease. Aspiration of duodenal drainage fluid with a Dreiling tube and analysis with a laboratory autoanalyzer are less cumbersome than marker perfusion and back titration techniques. Measurement of enzyme concentration instead of output could lead to the development of an endoscopic or through-the-scope screening method for assessing patients with suspected chronic pancreatitis or chronic abdominal pain.