Pancreatitis - blood amylase
Amylase is an enzyme that helps digest carbohydrates. It is made in the pancreas and the glands that make saliva. When the pancreas is diseased or inflamed, amylase releases into the blood.
A test can be done to measure the level of this enzyme in your blood.
Amylase may also be measured with an amylase urine test.
A blood sample is taken from a vein.
No special preparation is needed. However, you should avoid alcohol before the test. The health care provider may ask you to stop taking drugs that may affect the test. DO NOT stop taking any medicines without first talking to your provider.
Drugs that can increase amylase measurements include:
You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted to draw blood. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
This test is most often used to diagnose or monitor acute pancreatitis. It may also detect some digestive tract problems.
The test may also be done for the following conditions:
The normal range is 40 to 140 units per liter (U/L) or 0.38 to 1.42 microkat/L (µkat/L).
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some laboratories use different measurement methods. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your test results.
Increased blood amylase level may occur due to:
Decreased amylase level may occur due to:
Slight risks from having blood drawn may include:
Crockett SD, Wani S, Gardner TB, Falck-Ytter Y, Barkun AN; American Gastroenterological Association Institute Clinical Guidelines Committee. American Gastroenterological Association Institute guideline on initial management of acute pancreatitis. Gastroenterology. 2018;154(4):1096-1101. PMID: 29409760 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29409760.
Forsmark CE. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 144.
Meisenberg G, Simmons WH. Digestive enzymes. In: Meisenberg G, Simmons WH, eds. Principles of Medical Biochemistry. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 20.
Tenner S, Steinberg WM. Acute pancreatitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 58.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 1/26/2019
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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