Background: A simple, rapid test is specific and sensitive enough to distinguish, in patients with clinically suspected acute pancreatitis, those whose abdominal pain is indeed of pancreatic origin has proved elusive.
Methods: In two consecutive series of surgical patients in a teaching hospital, whose acute abdominal pain turned out to be due to acute pancreatitis (n-57) or extrapancreatic in origin (n=40), we studied urinary trypsinogen-2 in two ways. A test strip, incorporating monoclonal antibodies to two epitopes on trypsinogen-2, recorded a blue line when concentrations exceeded 50 microgram/L; we also measured trypsinogen-2 concentrations in the laboratory.
Findings: In the patients with acute pancreatitis the test strip was positive in 52 and negative in five, whereas in the 40 extrapancreatic controls there were four false positives. In a further set of 57 orthopaedic controls, one urine was strip-test positive. Concentrations of urinary trypsinogen-2 and the test-strip results were in good agreement and in only three of the 154 patients were the two approaches discrepant, at the 50 microgram/L cut-off.
Interpretation: These findings, in patients whose acute abdominal pain was known to be pancreatic in origin or not, are encouraging but need to be confirmed in a consecutive series of patients in whom the diagnosis of pancreatitis is in doubt.