Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
(603) 742-5252
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size
Physicians
Health Library
Back to Health Library   Print This Page Print    Email to a Friend Email

Schilling test
Schilling test


Definition:

The Schilling test is used to determine whether the body absorbs vitamin B12 normally.



Alternative Names:

Vitamin B12 absorption test



How the test is performed:

This test may be performed in four different stages to find the cause of low vitamin B12 levels.

Stage I: You will get two doses of vitamin B12 (cobalamin). The first dose is taken by mouth. The second dose is a radioactive form of B12. It is given as a shot 2 - 6 hours later. You will need to collect your urine over the next 24 hours, and deliver it to a lab or your doctor's office. The urine will be checked to see if you are absorbing vitamin B12 normally. For information on collecting the urine sample, see: 24-hour urine collection

If Stage I is abnormal, Stage II may be done 3 - 7 days later.

Stage II: You are given radioactive B12 along with intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor is a protein produced by cells in the stomach lining. The body needs it so the intestines can absorb vitamin B12 efficiently.

Stage II of the test can tell whether low vitamin B12 levels are caused by problems in the stomach that prevent it from producing intrinsic factor.

If a Stage II test is abnormal, a Stage III test is performed.

Stage III: This test is done after you have taken antibiotics for 2 weeks. It can tell whether abnormal bacterial growth has caused the low vitamin B12 levels.

Stage IV: This test determines whether low vitamin B12 levels are caused by problems with the pancreas. With this test, you will take pancreatic enzymes for three days, followed by a radioactive dose of vitamin B12.



How to prepare for the test:
  • Do not eat for 8 hours before starting the test, then eat normally for the next 24 hours. You can drink water.
  • The health care provider may ask you to stop taking drugs that can affect the test.
  • You cannot have intramuscular injection B12 within 3 days before the test.


How the test will feel:

The injection of vitamin B12 may sting.



Why the test is performed:

The Schilling test is performed to check vitamin B12 absorption and to evaluate patients for pernicious anemia.

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:



Normal Values:

Urinating 8 - 40% of the radioactive vitamin B12 within 24 hours is normal.

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:

Low vitamin B12 levels can cause megoblastic anemia .

If there is a problem with the stomach's ability to make intrinsic factor, Stage I of the test will be abnormal and Stage II will be normal.

Both the Stage I and II Schilling tests will be abnormal in people who have problems absorbing vitamin B12 and intrinsic factor in the small intestine.

Abnormal results may be due:



What the risks are:
  • Local reaction to vitamin injection
  • Nausea
  • Feeling lightheaded


Special considerations:



References:

Antony AC. Megaloblastic anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 170.




Review Date: 2/13/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Find What You Need

Events
Careers
Foundation
About Us
Contact
Directions
News
Social Media Agreement
Joint Notice
Web Privacy Policy
WDH Staff Portal

Centers & Services

Cancer Center
Cardiovascular Care
Joint Replacement
Women & Children's
Physician Offices
Other Services

Conditions & Treatments

Health Library

Support Services

Support Groups
Care-Van
Dental Center
Social Work
Food & Nutrition
Integrative Wellness
Spiritual Care
Concerns & Grievances
Homecare and Hospice

For Patients

Pay Your Bill Online
Pricing Estimates
Financial Assistance
Interpreter Services
Surgery Preparation
Medical Record Request
Advance Directives
Clinical Research & Trials

For Healthcare Professionals

Work and Life
Financial Well-Being
Career and Growth

The Wentworth-Douglass Health System includes:

 

Address

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100