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Gastrin - blood test

Definition

Gastrin is the major hormone that controls the release of acid in your stomach. When there is food in the stomach, gastrin is released into the blood. As the acid level rises in your stomach and intestines, your body normally makes less gastrin.

A laboratory test can be done to measure the amount of gastrin in the blood.

How the test is performed

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture

How to prepare for the test

Certain drugs may interfere with the results of this test. Your doctor will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines. Do not stop taking any medicines before talking to your doctor.

Drugs that can increase gastrin measurements include antacids, H2-blocking agents (such as cimetidine), and proton pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole).

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

Your doctor may order this test if you have signs or symptoms of a disorder linked to abnormal amounts of gastrin. This includes peptic ulcer disease.

Normal Values

Normal values are generally less than 100 pg/mL (picograms per milliliter).

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What abnormal results mean

Too much gastrin causes severe peptic ulcer disease. Greater-than-normal levels may also be due to:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Long-term gastritis
  • Overactivity of the gastrin-producing cells in the stomach (G-cell hyperplasia)
  • Helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach
  • Use of antacids or medicines to treat heartburn
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a gastrin-producing tumor that may develop in the stomach or pancreas

What the risks are

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Jensen RT. Pancreatic endocrine tumors. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 201.


Review Date: 8/5/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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