Glucagon - plasma

Last updated: Monday, 22, March, 2004

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Item Process
Specimen

The patient should fast overnight; 5 mL blood in special EDTA/trasylol tube, collected on melting ice and delivered immediately to the laboratory.

Method

Immunoasssay.

Reference Interval

25-250 µg/L.

Application

Diagnosis of functional glucagonoma, in patients with diabetes mellitus and other suggestive features eg, necrolytic migratory erythema, diarrhoea, weight loss and glossitis.

Interpretation

The test lacks specificity, with elevated glucagon levels occuring in acute illness and in patients with diabetes mellitus who do not have a functional glucagonoma.

The diagnosis of a functional glucagonoma requires appropriate clinical features (as above), the presence of a pancreatic tumour and hyperglucagonaemia.

Many glucagonomas are non-functional.

Reference

Tomassetti P et al. Ann Oncol. 2001; 12 Suppl 2: 95-99.