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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The early diagnosis of gastrinoma.

Despite the increasing awareness of gastrinoma and its lethal peptic ulcer sequelae, the diagnosis is often initially missed or made as a terminal event. The authors screened all patients with peptic ulcer symptoms serious enough to warrant hospital admission or those associated with diarrhea, nephrolithiasis, hypercalcemia, or pituitary abnormality. In a one-year period (1979-1980) nine (of 14 suspected) new gastrinoma patients were identified using a sensitive and specific gastrin radioimmunoassay in combination with provocative tests including IV secretin, calcium, and food. Conventional upper GI series, CAT scan, arteriography, and endoscopy provided no additional information other than to confirm the presence of ulcer disease. Basal plasma gastrin levels were more than 200 pmol L-1 in only three of the nine (normal fasting plasma gastrin levels are less than 25 pmol L-1). Three patients presented with acute¿ulcer perforation, and the diagnosis of gastrinoma was suspected because of multiple ulcers and pancreatic masses. In three other patients, previous duodenal ulcer surgery had failed. One patient with dyspepsia, high basal plasma gastrin, negative secretin and calcium infusion studies, and a positive meal test was diagnosed as having G-cell hyperplasia; this was confirmed by biopsy and antral gastrin extraction. Antrectomy alone resulted in cure. In all patients tested, a positive calcium infusion or secretin bolus (greater than 100% rise over basal) strongly suggested the diagnosis of gastrinoma, which was confirmed at surgery. In the acute perforations, initial management with omental patch and cimetidine therapy allowed survival of two patients, while emergency total gastrectomy in the third resulted in death due to esophagojejunal leak. Elective patients were treated with cimetidine initially for at least two weeks before total gastrectomy. In this group there were no operative mortalities, and postoperative morbidity was minimal. This series illustrates three important points: (1) careful screening of an ulcer population using gastrin radioimmunoassay and provocative tests has enabled a high yield of gastrinomas while conventional investigations are of minimal values; (2) a high index of suspicion in appropriate cases is necessary; and (3) total gastrectomy performed under elective circumstances is safe and allows the patients to resume a normal and healthy life without the sequelae of aggressive peptic ulceration or daily drug administration.[1]


  1. The early diagnosis of gastrinoma. Modlin, I.M., Jaffe, B.M., Sank, A., Albert, D. Ann. Surg. (1982) [Pubmed]
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