At a glance
Also known as
Elastase, stool; Pancreatic Elastase; Faecal Pancreatic Elastase; Human Faecal Elastase-1; FE-1
Why get tested?
To help detect and evaluate pancreatic insufficiency
When to get tested?
When you have signs and symptoms such as stomach cramps, weight loss, malnutrition
, delayed growth (in children) and fatty, foul-smelling stools and pancreatic insufficiency is suspected
A fresh formed stool sample that is not contaminated with urine
Test preparation needed?
If you are taking pancreatic enzymes, you may be asked to discontinue them for 5 days prior to stool collection
What is being tested?
Elastase is an produced by special (exocrine) tissue in the pancreas. This test measures the amount of elastase in stool (faeces) to help evaluate whether a person's pancreas is functioning properly.
The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen that consists of two kinds of : exocrine and endocrine. The exocrine pancreas is responsible for producing elastase along with other enzymes that are transported to the small intestine to break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates as part of food digestion.
In the digestive tract, elastase is not broken down by other enzymes and is eventually eliminated from the body in the stool. Elastase can be detected and measured in the stool when a person's pancreas is functioning normally. The level in the stool is decreased when the exocrine tissues of the pancreas are not producing sufficient elastase and other digestive enzymes. This condition is called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency occurs when the amount of enzymes released and transported to the small intestine is inadequate for proper food digestion and absorption of nutrients. Any condition that blocks the pancreatic ducts or damages or destroy the cells that produce elastase can cause pancreatic insufficiency. It is often seen in conditions such as chronic pancreatitis and sometimes pancreatic cancer. In children, it is most frequently associated with cystic fibrosis (CF) or .
How is the sample collected for testing?
A stool sample is collected in a clean container. The sample should be formed (not watery) and not contaminated with urine or water. The container should be transported promptly to the laboratory, or the sample may be frozen for later transport.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
If you are taking pancreatic enzymes, you may be asked to discontinue them for 5 days prior to stool collection.