To investigate the relationship between the duodenal outputs of calcium and diseases of the pancreas, we measured calcium secretion into the duodenum (during saline perfusion and after stimulation with an intravenous infusion of cholecystokinin (CCK) or secretin) in healthy controls, patients with chronic alcoholic or idiopathic pancreatitis, and patients with pancreatic cancer. The effects of acute and chronic hypercalcaemia and previous cholecystectomy were also studied. Our results indicate a characteristic increase in duodenal calcium outputs in response to CCK in chronic pancreatitis which is unaffected by the level of serum calcium, aetiology of the pancreatitis, previous cholecystectomy, and the presence or absence of radiological pancreatic calcifications. Although unproven, indirect observations support a pancreatic source for the increased calcium secretion. As we measured the outputs of calcium into the duodenum, previously described increases in calcium concentration are not merely a reflection of reduced volume secretion in chronic pancreatitis. Duodenal calcium outputs were significantly reduced in patients with cancer of the pancreas.
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