Background: As there is considerable overlap between the fasting serum gastrin concentrations found in Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and various common conditions such as Helicobacter pylori infection and acid suppressing medication use, establishing the cause of hypergastrinaemia in individual cases can sometimes be difficult.
Aim: To review the causes of hypergastrinaemia and the role of additional non-invasive investigations in hypergastrinaemic patients.
Methods: Review of articles following a Pubmed search.
Results: As gastrinomas may cause serious complications and be potentially life threatening, investigation of hypergastrinaemic patients should particularly focus on confirming or refuting the diagnosis of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Establishing the cause of hypergastrinaemia may be difficult when there is only a mild-to-moderate elevation of fasting serum gastrin concentration and concurrent treatment with proton pump inhibitor drugs and the presence of H. pylori infection can both confuse the clinical picture. A variety of provocative tests are therefore useful for establishing whether a hypergastrinaemic patient has a gastrinoma and current evidence suggests that the secretin test should be used first line.
Conclusions: We suggest an algorithm for the investigation of patients found to have an elevated fasting serum gastrin concentration and address the roles of gastrin stimulation tests in current clinical practice.