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Vasoactive intestinal peptide test

Definition

Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) is a test that measures the amount of VIP in the blood.

Alternative Names

Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide test

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is drawn from a vein.

How to Prepare for the Test

You should not eat or drink anything for 4 hours before the test.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is used to confirm the presence of a VIPoma, a tumor that releases VIP. VIPoma's are extremely rare.

VIP is a substance found throughout the body. The highest levels are normally found in the nervous system and gut. VIP has many functions, including relaxing certain muscles, triggering release of hormones from the pancreas, gut, and hypothalamus, and increasing the amount of water and electrolytes from the pancreas and gut.

VIPomas produce and release VIP into the blood. This blood test checks the amount of VIP in the blood to see if a person has a VIPoma.

Normal Results

Normal values range from less than 75 to 190 pg/mL (picograms per milliliter).

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A higher-than-normal level, along with symptoms of watery diarrhea and flushing, may be a sign of a VIPoma.

Risks

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Dickson PV, Behrman SW. Management of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Surg Clin N Am. 2013;93:675-691.

Vella A, Drucker DJ. Gastrointestinal hormones and gut endocrine tumors. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 39.


Review Date: 5/24/2013
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial Team.
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