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Trypsin/Chymotrypsin (Stool)

Does this test have other names?

Test for concentration of pancreatic enzymes, direct pancreatic enzyme measurement

What is this test?

This test checks your stool sample for trypsin and chymotrypsin. These are 2 enzymes made by the pancreas. The test measures how well your pancreas is working to see if you have pancreatic insufficiency or cystic fibrosis (CF).

With pancreatic insufficiency, the pancreas doesn't make enough enzymes to digest your food. This leads to problems absorbing the nutrients that the body needs. CF stops the pancreas from making its normal digestive enzymes. In most cases, this problem shows up during the first years of life.

People with pancreatic insufficiency or CF often have trouble absorbing nutrients from their food. They may not put on weight. Children with CF may not grow normally. Advances in treatment for people with CF have led to them living better quality lives. But this requires proper medical care such as treatments for lung problems and replacement pancreatic enzymes to help with digestion.

Based on the results from this test, your healthcare provider may prescribe replacement pancreatic enzymes. 

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if your healthcare provider thinks that your pancreas isn't working the way it should. Symptoms that may mean your pancreas is not working properly include:

  • Belly (abdominal) pain

  • Weight loss, because you don’t have the enzymes you need to help digest food

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Low blood pressure

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Pancreatitis that keeps coming back

  • Recurrent sinusitis

  • Male infertility

What other tests might I have along with this test?

You may also have other tests to look at how your pancreas is working. These include:

  • Elastase and fat. Elastase is an enzyme that breaks down protein. Low levels of elastase or high levels of fat in your stool mean that you may have a problem with your pancreas.

  • Pancreatic function. Your provider will stimulate your pancreas to make fluid. Then your provider will collect it from your small intestine.

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

Abnormal levels of trypsin or chymotrypsin mean that your pancreas isn't working properly.

How is this test done?

This test is done with a stool sample. Your healthcare provider may ask you to collect a single stool sample or all of your bowel movements during a 72-hour period. Check that the sample does not contain urine or toilet tissue.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks.  

What might affect my test results?

Urine or toilet tissue in the sample can affect the results.

How do I get ready for this test?

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

Online Medical Reviewer: Chad Haldeman-Englert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Maryann Foley RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2020
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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