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Trypsin (Blood)

Does this test have other names?

Trypsinogen

What is this test?

This test measures levels of trypsin in your blood to see if you have pancreatitis.

Your pancreas is an organ in your belly. It lies behind your stomach. One of its jobs is to make enzymes that go into your small intestine to help you digest foods. The pancreas can become inflamed (pancreatitis). This can happen suddenly (acute pancreatitis), or grow worse over a longer time (chronic pancreatitis).

During acute pancreatitis, enzymes from your pancreas can escape into your blood. One of these enzymes is trypsin. It's made from trypsinogen. Trypsinogen turns into trypsin in the small intestine, and the names of the two are sometimes used interchangeably.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if your healthcare provider suspects that you have pancreatitis. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:

  • Pain in your upper belly that can come on quickly and last for days. The pain may be severe, and it may travel to your back. Leaning forward may relieve the pain.

  • Fever

  • Nausea and vomiting, which can last for hours

  • Agitation

Chronic pancreatitis can cause many of the same symptoms, as well as some that are different. They include:

  • Pain that is often worse just after you eat. It may strike in flare-ups early in the disease and later become steadier.

  • Oily, foul-smelling stools because of problems absorbing fat from foods

  • Glucose intolerance or diabetes

Heavy alcohol use over time can cause pancreatitis, as can certain types of medicines.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also order a number of other tests if you have symptoms of pancreatitis. Tests for acute pancreatitis may include measurements of:

  • Amylase, another kind of pancreatic enzyme, which may be in your blood or urine

  • Lipase, another pancreatic enzyme found in your blood

  • Other substances in your blood that point to inflammation, including C-reactive protein

Other tests for chronic pancreatitis may include:

  • Measurement of fat in stool samples collected over a 72-hour period

  • Measurement of a substance called fecal elastase in a stool sample

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. 

Higher levels of trypsin can mean that you have acute pancreatitis.

How is this test done?

The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand. 

Does this test pose any risks?

Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore. 

What might affect my test results?

Other factors aren't likely to affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. 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 illicit drugs you may use.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Haldeman-Englert, Chad, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2017
© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.