Pancreatic elastase

Pancreatic elastase is an enzyme produced by the pancreas, crucial for digesting proteins. Measuring its levels in feces provides valuable information about pancreatic function. This enzyme remains stable in fecal matter, making it a reliable indicator for evaluating the exocrine function of the pancreas, particularly in diagnosing conditions like pancreatic insufficiency....

Pancreatic elastase

Who Would Benefit from Testing Pancreatic Elastase?

Individuals with symptoms suggesting pancreatic issues, such as unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, nutrient malabsorption, or changes in bowel habits, would benefit from pancreatic elastase testing. It’s especially useful for diagnosing chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, and other conditions affecting pancreatic function.

What Do Low Levels of Pancreatic Elastase Mean?

Low levels of pancreatic elastase indicate reduced pancreatic function, often signifying pancreatic insufficiency. This condition means the pancreas isn’t producing enough digestive enzymes, leading to difficulties in breaking down food, particularly fats and proteins. It can result in nutrient malabsorption, weight loss, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

What Does the Pancreas Do?

The pancreas plays a vital role in digestion and blood sugar regulation. It produces digestive enzymes, including pancreatic elastase, which help break down food in the intestine. The pancreas also secretes hormones like insulin and glucagon, crucial for managing blood glucose levels. Its dual function in both digestion and endocrine regulation makes it essential for overall health.

What is Pancreatic Insuffiency?

Pancreatic insufficiency is a condition where the pancreas does not produce enough of the enzymes required for proper digestion of food. This insufficiency can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, particularly fats and fat-soluble vitamins, since pancreatic enzymes are crucial for breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

When the pancreas underperforms, undigested food passes through the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in symptoms such as:

  • Steatorrhea (fatty, foul-smelling stools)
  • Weight loss, despite having a normal appetite
  • Abdominal discomfort or bloating
  • Gas and diarrhea

Test(s) that measure/test for Pancreatic elastase

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