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The Test Sample
What is being tested?
Chymotrypsinogen, the inactive precursor of chymotrypsin, is produced in the pancreas and transported to the small intestine. In the small intestine, it is activated to form chymotrypsin. It is one of the enzymes responsible for breaking down the protein in food into smaller pieces, called peptides. Chymotrypsin is detectable in the stool if the pancreas is functioning normally.
Individuals with pancreatic dysfunction may either have blocked pancreatic ducts or the cells that produce chymotrypsinogen may be damaged or destroyed. Such cell damage and duct blockage cause pancreatic insufficiency because the amount of enzymes transported to the small intestine is inadequate for proper food digestion. This is often seen in conditions such as chronic pancreatitis and sometimes pancreatic cancer.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A fresh stool sample, uncontaminated with urine, is collected.
NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.
Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
If you are taking pancreatic enzymes, you may be instructed to discontinue taking the enzymes 5 days before providing the stool sample.