Until now use of the PABA test together with [14C] PABA to calculate the PABA excretion index has probably been the best adaptation suggested to enhance the specificity of this non-invasive pancreatic function test. Drawbacks of the method are the application of radioactivity, the fact that children, pregnant women, and patients with renal insufficiency have to be excluded from the test, and the possible interference of drugs and isotopes. We propose simultaneous administration of p-aminosalicylic acid (PAS) in the PABA test and quantification of the urinary PABA and PAS excretion with liquid chromatography. Urinary PABA and PAS excretion in six hours are comparable (69.5 +/- 8.4% and 65.6 +/- 18.4% respectively in five healthy volunteers). Application of the PABA/PAS ratio was compared with the urinary PABA excretion in 21 normal controls, 38 patients with pancreatic disease, and 42 patients without pancreatic pathology. The PABA/PAS ratio and the per cent PABA excretion correlated very well in pancreatic patients: (PABA/PAS ratio) = 0.0149 (% PABA) + 0.052 (r = 0.902). Use of the PABA/PAS ratio enhanced the specificity of the test from 76 to 89%.
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