Pearl is secreted by the mantle as a means of protection against a small external particle. When an external particle or body, such as a grain of sand or a small parasite invades in between the mantle and the shell it becomes enclosed in a sac of mantle epithelium which produces irritation. The irritation stimulates the mantle epithelium to secrete thin concentric layers of mother of pearl around the foreign body. The amount of deposition is in direct proportion to the degree of irritation. After several years, a pearl will be formed, usually, it requires 3 to 4 years to produce a pearl of considerable size but a large pearl requires about 7 years. The foreign particles in the pearl are called nucleus whereas the thin nacre layers are concentric and called the mother of pearl.
- Cephalic or neurogenic phase: This phase is initiated by the sight, smell, taste, or thought of food that causes stimulation of vagal nuclei in the brain. Vagus nerve directly stimulates parietal cells to secrete acid; in addition, it also stimulates antral G cells to secrete gastrin in blood (which is also a potent stimulus for gastric acid secretion) (Figure 859.2). Cephalic phase is abolished by vagotomy.
- Gastric phase: Entry of swallowed food into the stomach causes gastric distension and induces gastric phase. Distension of antrum and increase in pH due to neutralization of acid by food stimulate antral G cells to secrete gastrin into the circulation. Gastrin, in turn, causes release of hydrochloric acid from parietal cells.
- Intestinal phase: Entry of digested proteins into the duodenum causes an increase in acid output from the stomach. It is thought that certain hormones and absorbed amino acids stimulate parietal cells to secrete acid.
- Hydrochloric acid (HCl): This is secreted by the parietal cells of the fundus and the body of the stomach. HCl provides the high acidic pH necessary for activation of pepsinogen to pepsin. Gastric acid secretion is stimulated by histamine, acetylcholine, and gastrin (Figure 859.2). HCl kills most microorganisms entering the stomach and also denatures proteins (breaks hydrogen bonds making polypeptide chains to unfold). Its secretion is inhibited by somatostatin (secreted by D cells in pancreas and by mucosa of intestine), gastric inhibitory peptide (secreted by K cells in duodenum and jejunum), prostaglandin, and secretin (secreted by S cells in duodenum).
- Pepsin: Pepsin is secreted by chief cells in stomach. Pepsin causes partial digestion of proteins leading to the formation of large polypeptide molecules (optimal function at pH 1.0 to 3.0). Its secretion is enhanced by vagal stimulation.
- Intrinsic factor (IF): IF is necessary for absorption of vitamin B12 in the terminal ileum. It is secreted by parietal cells of stomach.
- Gastric intubation for gastric analysis is contraindicated in esophageal stricture or varices, active nasopharyngeal disease, diverticula, malignancy, recent history of severe gastric hemorrhage, hypertension, aortic aneurysm, cardiac arrhythmias, congestive cardiac failure, or non-cooperative patient.
- Pyloric stenosis: Obstruction of gastric outlet can elevate gastric acid output due to raised gastrin (following antral distension).
- Pentagastrin stimulation is contraindicated in cases with allergy to pentagastrin, and recent severe gastric hemorrhge due to peptic ulcer disease.
- It is an invasive and cumbersome technique that is traumatic and unpleasant for the patient.
- Information obtained is not diagnostic in itself.
- Availability of better tests for diagnosis such as endoscopy and radiology (for suspected peptic ulcer or malignancy); serum gastrin estimation (for ZE syndrome); vitamin assays, Schilling test, and antiparietal cell antibodies (for pernicious anemia); and tests for Helicobacter pylori infection (in duodenal or gastric ulcer).
- Availability of better medical line of treatment that obviates need for surgery in many patients.
- Hollander’s test (Insulin hypoglycemia test): In the past, this test was used for confirmation of completeness of vagotomy (done for duodenal ulcer).
Hypoglycemia is a potent stimulus for gastric acid secretion and is mediated by vagus nerve. This response is abolished by vagotomy.
In this test, after determining BAO, insulin is administered intravenously (0.15-0.2 units/kg) and acid output is estimated every 15 minutes for 2 hours (8 post-stimulation samples). Vagotomy is considered as complete if, after insulin-induced hypoglycemia (blood glucose < 45 mg/dl), no acid output is observed within 45 minutres.
The test gives reliable results only if blood glucose level falls below 50 mg/dl at some time following insulin injection. It is best carried out after 3-6 months of vagotomy.
The test is no longer recommended because of the risk associated with hypoglycemia. Myocardial infarction, shock, and death have also been reported.
- Fractional test meal: In the past, test meals (e.g. oat meal gruel, alcohol) were administered orally to stimulate gastric secretion and determine MAO or PAO. Currently, parenteral pentagastrin is the gastric stimulant of choice.
- Tubeless gastric analysis: This is an indirect and rapid method for determining output of free hydrochloric acid in gastric juice. In this test, a cationexchange resin tagged to a dye (azure A) is orally administered. In the stomach, the dye is displaced from the resin by the free hydrogen ions of the hydrochloric acid. The displaced azure A is absorbed in the small intestine, enters the bloodstream, and is excreted in urine. Urinary concentration of the dye is measured photometrically or by visual comparison with known color standards. The quantity of the dye excreted is proportional to the gastric acid output. However, if kidney or liver function is impaired, false results may be obtained. The test is no longer in use.
- Spot check of gastric pH: According to some investigators, spot determination of pH of fasting gastric juice (obtained by nasogastric intubation) can detect the presence of hypochlorhydria (if pH>5.0 in men or >7.0 in women).
- Congo red test during esophagogastroduodenoscopy: This test is done to determine the completeness of vagotomy. Congo red dye is sprayed into the stomach during esophagogastroduodenoscopy; if it turns red, it indicates presence of functional parietal cells in stomach with capacity of producing acid.
- Volume of gastric juice: 20-100 ml
- Appearance: Clear
- pH: 1.5 to 3.5
- Basal acid output: Up to 5 mEq/hour
- Peak acid output: 1 to 20 mEq/hour
- Ratio of basal acid output to peak acid output: <0.20 or < 20%
- To determine the cause of recurrent peptic ulcer disease:
• To detect Zollinger-Ellison (ZE) syndrome: ZE syndrome is a rare disorder in which multiple mucosal ulcers develop in the stomach, duodenum, and upper jejunum due to gross hypersecretion of acid in the stomach. The cause of excess secretion of acid is a gastrin-producing tumor of pancreas. Gastric analysis is done to detect markedly increased basal and pentagastrinstimulated gastric acid output for diagnosis of ZE syndrome (and also to determine response to acidsuppressant therapy). However, a more sensitive and specific test for diagnosis of ZE syndrome is measurement of serum gastrin (fasting and secretin-stimulated).
• To decide about completeness of vagotomy following surgery for peptic ulcer disease: See Hollander’s test.
- To determine the cause of raised fasting serum gastrin level: Hypergastrinemia can occur in achlorhydria, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, and antral G cell hyperplasia.
- To support the diagnosis of pernicious anemia (PA): Pernicious anemia is caused by defective absorption of vitamin B12 due to failure of synthesis of intrinsic factor secondary to gastric mucosal atrophy. There is also absence of hydrochloric acid in the gastric juice (achlorhydria). Gastric analysis is done for demonstration of achlorhydria if facilities for vitamin assays and Schilling’s test are not available (Achlorhydria by itself is insufficient for diagnosis of PA).
- To distinguish between benign and malignant ulcer: Hypersecretion of acid is a feature of duodenal peptic ulcer, while failure of acid secretion (achlorhydria) occurs in gastric carcinoma. However, anacidity occurs only in a small proportion of cases with advanced gastric cancer. Also, not all patients with duodenal ulcer show increased acid output.
- To measure the amount of acid secreted in a patient with symptoms of peptic ulcer dyspepsia but normal X-ray findings: Excess acid secretion in such cases is indicative of duodenal ulcer. However, hypersecretion of acid does not always occur in duodenal ulcer.
- To decide the type of surgery to be performed in a patient with peptic ulcer: Raised basal as well as peak acid outputs indicate increased parietal cell mass and need for gastrectomy. Raised basal acid output with normal peak output is an indication for vagotomy.
Box 855.1 Determination of basal acid output, maximum acid output, and peak acid output
- Volume: Normal total volume is 20-100 ml (usually < 50 ml). Causes of increased volume of gastric juice are—
• Delayed emptying of stomach: pyloric stenosis
• Increased gastric secretion: duodenal ulcer, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
- Color: Normal gastric secretion is colorless, with a faintly pungent odor. Fresh blood (due to trauma, or recent bleeding from ulcer or cancer) is red in color. Old hemorrhage produces a brown, coffee-ground like appearance (due to formation of acid hematin). Bile regurgitation produces a yellow or green color.
- pH: Normal pH is 1.5 to 3.5. In pernicious anemia, pH is greater than 7.0 due to absence of HCl.
- Basal acid output:
• Normal: Up to 5 mEq/hour.
• Duodenal ulcer: 5-15 mEq/hour.
• Zollinger-Ellison syndrome: >20 mEq/hour.
Normal BAO is seen in gastric ulcer and in some patients with duodenal ulcer.
- Peak acid output:
• Normal: 1-20 mEq/hour.
• Duodenal ulcer: 20-60 mEq/hour.
• Zollinger-Ellison syndrome: > 60 mEq/hour.
• Achlorhydria: 0 mEq/hour.
Normal PAO is seen in gastric ulcer and gastric carcinoma. Values up to 60 mEq/hour can occur in some normal individuals and in some patients with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
In pernicious anemia, there is no acid output due to gastric mucosal atrophy. Achlorhydria should be diagnosed only if there is no free HCl even after maximum stimulation.
- Ratio of basal acid output to peak acid output (BAO/PAO):
• Normal: < 0.20 (or < 20%).
• Gastric or duodenal ulcer: 0.20-0.40 (20-40%).
• Duodenal ulcer: 0.40-0.60 (40-60%).
• Zollinger-Ellison syndrome: > 0.60 (> 60%).
Normal values occur in gastric ulcer or gastric carcinoma.
|Increased gastric acid output||Decreased gastric acid output|
|• Duodenal ulcer||• Chronic atrophic gastritis|
|• Zollinger-Ellison syndrome||1. Pernicious anemia|
|• Hyperplasia of antral G cells||2. Rheumatoid arthritis|
|• Systemic mastocytosis||3. Thyrotoxicosis|
|• Basophilic leukemia||• Gastric ulcer|
|• Gastric carcinoma|
|• Chronic renal failure|
- Brown: Normal
- Black: Bleeding in upper gastrointestinal tract (proximal to cecum), Drugs (iron salts, bismuth salts, charcoal)
- Red: Bleeeding in large intestine, undigested tomatoes or beets
- Clay-colored (gray-white): Biliary obstruction
- Silvery: Carcinoma of ampulla of Vater
- Watery: Certain strains of Escherichia coli, Rotavirus enteritis, cryptosporidiosis
- Rice water: Cholera
- Unformed with blood and mucus: Amebiasis, inflammatory bowel disease
- Unformed with blood, mucus, and pus: Bacillary dysentery
- Unformed, frothy, foul smelling, which float on water: Steatorrhea.
- Sedimentation techniques: Ova and cysts settle at the bottom. However, excessive fecal debris may make the detection of parasites difficult. Example: Formolethyl acetate sedimentation procedure.
- Floatation techniques: Ova and cysts float on surface. However, some ova and cysts do not float at the top in this procedure. Examples: Saturated salt floatation technique and zinc sulphate concentration technique.
- Occult blood
- Excess fat excretion (malabsorption)
- Reducing sugars
- Fecal osmotic gap
- Fecal pH
- Intestinal diseases: hookworms, amebiasis, typhoid fever, ulcerative colitis, intussusception, adenoma, cancer of colon or rectum.
- Gastric and esophageal diseases: peptic ulcer, gastritis, esophageal varices, hiatus hernia.
- Systemic disorders: bleeding diathesis, uremia.
- Long distance runners.
- Ingestion of peroxidase-containing foods like red meat, fish, poultry, turnips, horseradish, cauliflower, spinach, or cucumber. Diet should be free from peroxidase-containing foods for at least 3 days prior to testing.
- Drugs like aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs, which increase blood loss from gastrointestinal tract in normal persons.
- Foods containing large amounts of vitamin C.
- Conversion of all hemoglobin to acid hematin (which has no peroxidase-like activity) during passage through the gastrointestinal tract.
- Deficiency of pancreatic lipase (insufficient lipolysis): chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis.
- Deficiency of bile salts (insufficient emulsification of fat): biliary obstruction, severe liver disease, bile salt deconjugation due to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
- Diseases of small intestine: tropical sprue, celiac disease, Whipple’s disease.
- Microscopic stool examination after staining for fat: A random specimen of stool is collected after putting the patient on a diet of >80 gm fat per day. Stool sample is stained with a fat stain (oil red O, Sudan III, or Sudan IV) and observed under the microscope for fat globules (Figure 845.2). Presence of ≥60 fat droplets/HPF indicates steatorrhea. Ingestion of mineral or castor oil and use of rectal suppositories can cause problems in interpretation.
- Quantitative estimation of fecal fat: The definitive test for diagnosis of fat malabsorption is quantitation of fecal fat. Patient should be on a diet of 70-100 gm of fat per day for 6 days before the test. Feces are collected over 72 hours and stored in a refrigerator during the collection period. Specimen should not be contaminated with urine. Fat quantitation can be done by gravimetric or titrimetric method. In gravimetric method, an accurately weighed sample of feces is emulsified, acidified, and fat is extracted in a solvent; after evaporation of solvent, fat is weighed as a pure compound. Titrimetric analysis is the most widely used method. An accurately weighed stool sample is treated with alcoholic potassium hydroxide to convert fat into soaps. Soaps are then converted to fatty acids by the addition of hydrochloric acid. Fatty acids are extracted in a solvent and the solvent is evaporated. The solution of fat made in neutral alcohol is then titrated against sodium hydroxide. Fatty acids comprise about 80% of fecal fat. Values >7 grams/day are usually abnormal. Values >14 grams/day are specific for diseases causing fat malabsorption.
(Plasma sodium × Urine creatinine)
- Causes of increased specific gravity:
a. Reduced renal perfusion (with preservation of concentrating ability of tubules),
e. Urinary tract obstruction.
- Causes of reduced specific gravity:
a. Diabetes insipidus
b. Chronic renal failure
c. Impaired concentrating ability due to diseases of tubules.