Fasting serum triglycerides were measured in 52 patients who had sustained an attack of pancreatitis (gall stone related 33, alcoholism six) at least six months earlier. Several patients (23%) had raised fasting serum triglycerides, with a type IV phenotype in all but one patient. The 40 patients with normal fasting serum triglycerides received an oral load of 100 g sunflower oil to compare their clearance of dietary triglycerides with that of a control group of 54 subjects. The clearance of ingested triglycerides was significantly impaired in the patients - irrespective of the presumed aetiological factor, or clinical condition associated with pancreatitis - compared with the clearance in controls. A triglyceride tolerance test is the only way to detect those patients in whom a future attack of pancreatitis may be precipitated by a diet rich in fat, or endogenous over production of triglycerides as after an alcoholic debauch.
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