Amylase

Amylase is an enzyme. It is measured in the blood. This test can provide information on the function of your pancreas. This test is used to diagnose swelling of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and other pancreatic diseases. The rise of amylase at the beginning of a pancreatitis attack, and its fall after about 2 days, helps to make a diagnosis. This test may be done if you have problems that suggest a disorder of the pancreas. Such problems may include severe abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, or nausea. Long-standing pancreatitis may be associated with alcoholism. It can also be caused by injury or a blocked pancreatic duct. It may also be associated with genetic abnormalities such as cystic fibrosis. Amylase levels may be only moderately increased with chronic pancreatitis. Amylase levels may be only moderately decreased when the cells that produce amylase in the pancreas are injured or destroyed. Other causes of an increase in this enzyme include problems with the bowel, ovaries, skeletal muscle, or mumps.

Amylase is also used in the diagnosis and follow-up of cancer of the pancreas, ovaries, or lungs, gallbladder attack, and mumps.

PREPARATION FOR TEST

No preparation or fasting is necessary. A blood sample will be drawn from a vein in the arm.

NORMAL FINDINGS

  • Newborn: 6 to 65 units/L

  • Adults: 60 to 180 units/L (0.8 to 3.2 microkatal/L)

Amylase levels remain low for the first 2 months of life. They increase to adult values by 1 year of age.

Values may be slightly increased during normal pregnancy and in older adults.

Ranges for normal findings may vary among different laboratories and hospitals. You should always check with your caregiver after having lab work or other tests done to discuss the meaning of your test results and whether your values are considered within normal limits.

MEANING OF TEST

Your caregiver will go over the test results with you. Your caregiver will discuss the importance and meaning of your results. He or she will also discuss treatment options and additional tests, if needed.

OBTAINING THE TEST RESULTS

It is your responsibility to obtain your test results. Ask the lab or department performing the test when and how you will get your results.