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Alias: N/A

Discipline: Clinical Chemistry

Test information: The faecal elastase assay measures human pancreatic elastase in faecal samples as an indication of pancreatic exocrine function. Pancreatic elastase is a proteolytic enzyme synthesised by the pancreas; it is released into the gastrointestinal tract to help break down food, before being excreted in the faeces. Elastase is not degraded by the intestinal tract; the concentration in faeces is 6 times higher than in duodenal juice. The elastase concentration in the faeces is a reflection of pancreatic exocrine function; its ability to synthesise and release exocrine enzymes required for digestion. Measurement of faecal elastase can be used in the diagnosis of pancreatic insufficiency, causes of which include: chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, diabetes mellitus, cholelithiasis, and pancreatic cancer.

Specimen Type(s)
  • Faeces;
Other Acceptable Specimen Type(s)
Specimen Container - Adult
  • Blue Top Container (Fecon);
Specimen Container - Paediatric
  • Blue Top Container (Fecon);
  • Sterile CE-marked Universal Container;
  • N/A;
Part of a test profile?
Volume (min) of sample to be sent to laboratory
A single random formed stool sample approx. 2 g (cherry-sized).
Patient Preparation, Sample Handling and Transport
To be frozen on arrival in laboratory
Maximum add on time
Units and Reference Ranges / Interpretation
>200 µg elastase/g faeces Normal function
UKAS number
UKAS accredited test?
Very watery samples should be avoided because the dilutional effect of the stool water can lead to a falsely low result. If a low result is found in a watery sample, a repeat sample will be requested by the laboratory. Very hard/dry stool samples cannot be processed.

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Last updated: 26-06-2023