Objective: To identify the best method for determining freedom from disease after gastrinoma resection and for predicting long-term disease-free status in patients with the Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
Design: Prospective study in consecutive patients.
Setting: Referral-based clinical research center.
Patients: Eighty-one consecutive patients with the Zollinger-Ellison syndrome who underwent surgical exploration for gastrinoma resection.
Intervention: Patients were evaluated after gastrinoma resection, before discharge, 3 to 6 months after surgery, and yearly thereafter. Evaluation included secretin provocative testing and fasting serum gastrin determinations. Follow-up examinations after the initial postoperative evaluations included a clinical assessment, acid secretion studies, a calcium provocative test, and various imaging studies.
Measurements and Main Results: Most patients (96%) had gastrinomas. Freedom from disease was defined by improved symptoms, reduced acid output and antisecretory drug requirements, and a normal gastrin level, normal imaging studies, and negative gastrin provocative studies. Fifty-two percent of patients (n = 42) were disease-free immediately after surgery, 44% at 3 to 6 months, 42% at 1 year, and 35% by 5 years (mean follow-up, 39 months). The secretin provocative test was the first test to become positive in 45% of patients with a recurrence, the serum gastrin determination was the first test to become positive in 36%, and both tests became positive at the same time in 18%. No recurrence was first detected by imaging studies or by calcium provocative testing. Fasting serum gastrin levels and secretin provocative test results at different postoperative times can be used to predict the probability of a patient remaining disease free at 3 years. Patients with a normal gastrin level and a normal secretin provocative test immediately after surgery had a 3-year disease-free probability of 75%, and normal results on both tests at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years yielded respective probabilities of 88%, 95%, and 100%.
Conclusions: Both the secretin provocative test and fasting serum gastrin determination are necessary for the early diagnosis of cases of recurrent disease after gastrinoma resection. The calcium provocative test and imaging studies do not detect any recurrences first. Fasting serum gastrin determinations and secretin provocative testing at different postoperative times can be used to predict the probability of a patient remaining disease free at 3 years.