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Original research
What is the significance of a faecal elastase-1 level between 200 and 500μg/g?


Background Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency is a cause of malabsorption. It is generally diagnosed if faecal elastase-1 (FE-1) levels are below 200 µg/g. Pancreatic function is assumed to be normal when faecal elastase levels are >500 µg/g. The significance of faecal elastase levels above 200 µg/g but less than 500 µg/g is unclear.

Methods This retrospective study reports the response to treatment in patients who had an FE-1 level between 200 and 500 µg/g.

Results Of these 82 patients, 28 were offered pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT). A clinical response, defined as an improvement in their initial symptoms after commencing PERT, was seen in 20 patients (71%), 7 with potentially predisposing conditions and 13 with functional diarrhoea. PERT particularly abolished or improved diarrhoea, steatorrhoea and flatulence.

Conclusion Clinicians should, therefore, be aware that a trial of PERT given to patients with FE-1 levels between 200 and 500 µg/g may lead to improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms.

  • malabsorption
  • diarrhoea
  • pancreatic elastase-1
  • pancreatic enzymes

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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