What is the role of fecal tests in the diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis?

Updated: Jul 15, 2019
  • Author: Jason L Huffman, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Because maldigestion and malabsorption do not occur until more than 90% of the pancreas has been destroyed, steatorrhea is a manifestation of advanced chronic pancreatitis. Neither qualitative nor quantitative fecal fat analysis can detect early disease.

Assays of fecal chymotrypsin and human pancreatic elastase 1 have the same limitations but are useful in confirming advanced chronic pancreatitis with exocrine insufficiency.


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