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August 14, 1972

Carotene AbsorptionA Screening Test for Steatorrhea

JAMA. 1972;221(7):677-679. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200200025006

Serum carotene levels before and after oral administration of carotene and quantitative fecal fat excretion were measured in 158 patients. Low levels of serum carotene did not reliably select the patient with steatorrhea since values less than 70μg/100 ml were associated with normal fecal fat excretion in 30%. Values greater than 70μg/100 ml were associated with steatorrhea in 18%. However, after oral loading, an increase in serum carotene of 35μg/100 ml or more indicated normal fat absorption. Lesser increases were associated with steatorrhea in 80% of patients. The carotene absorption test is a simple, sensitive, and reliable screening test for steatorrhea.