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Diagnosis There is no specific test for Malabsorption. As for most medical conditions, investigation is guided by symptoms and signs. Moreover, tests for pancreatic function are complex and varies widely between centres.
Routine blood tests may reveal anaemia, high ESR or low albumin; which has high sensitivity for presence of organic disease . In this setting, microcytic anaemia usually implies iron deficiency and macrocytosis can be from impaired folic acid or B12 absorption or both. Low cholesterol or triglyceride may give clue toward fat malabsorption as low calcium and phosphate toward osteomalacia from low vitamin D.
Specific vitamins like vitamin D or micro nutrient like zinc levels can be checked. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) are affected in fat malabsorption. Prolonged prothrombin time can be from vitamin K deficiency.
Serological studies Specific tests are carried out to determine underlying cause. IgA tissue trans glutamate or IgA antiendomysium assay for gluten sensitive enteropathy. Stool studies
Microscopy is particularly useful in diarrhoea, may show protozoa like giardia, ova, cyst and other infective agents. Fecal fat study to diagnose steatorrhoea is less frequently performed nowadays. Low elastase is indicative of pancreatic insufficiency. Chymotrypsin and pancreolauryl can be assessed as well Radiological studies
Barium follow through is useful in delineating small intestinalanatomy. Barium enema may be undertaken to see colonic or ileal lesions.
CT abdomen is useful in ruling out structural abnormality, done in pancreatic protocol when visualising pancreas. Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) to complement or as an alternative to ERCP.
You might want to google WebMD or other sources for more details. This can
happen for many reasons including but not limited to pancreatic cancer.
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