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Trypsin (Blood)

Does this test have other names?


What is this test?

This test measures levels of trypsin in your blood to see if you have pancreatitis.

Your pancreas is an organ in your abdomen (belly). It lies behind your stomach. One of its jobs is to make enzymes that go into your small intestine to help you digest foods. The pancreas can become inflamed, a problem called pancreatitis. This can occur suddenly, a condition called acute pancreatitis, or grow worse over a longer time, a condition called chronic pancreatitis.

During acute pancreatitis, enzymes from your pancreas can escape into your blood. One of these enzymes is trypsin. It's made from trypsinogen. Trypsinogen turns into trypsin in the small intestine, and the names of the two are sometimes used interchangeably.

Why do I need this test?

You might have this test if your doctor suspects that you have pancreatitis. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:

  • Pain in your upper abdomen that can come on quickly and last for days. The pain may be severe, and it may travel to your back. Leaning forward may relieve the pain.

  • Fever

  • Nausea and vomiting, which can last for hours

  • Agitation

Chronic pancreatitis can cause many of the same symptoms, as well as some that are different. They include:

  • Pain that is often worse just after you eat. It may strike in flare-ups early in the disease and later become steadier.

  • Oily, foul-smelling stools because of problems absorbing fat from foods

  • Glucose intolerance or diabetes

Heavy alcohol use over time can cause pancreatitis, as can certain types of medications.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may also order a number of other tests if you have symptoms of pancreatitis. Tests for acute pancreatitis may include measurements of:

  • Amylase, another kind of pancreatic enzyme, which may be in your blood or urine

  • Lipase, another pancreatic enzyme found in your blood

  • Other substances in your blood that point to inflammation, including C-reactive protein

Other tests for chronic pancreatitis may include:

  • Measurement of fat in stool samples collected over a 72-hour period

  • Measurement of a substance called fecal elastase in a stool sample

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Higher levels of trypsin can mean that you have acute pancreatitis.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.

What might affect my test results?

Other factors aren't likely to affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your doctor knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.