Health Encyclopedia

Amylase (Blood)

Does this test have other names?

Serum amylase

What is this test?

This test measures the level of the enzyme amylase in your blood.

About 40% of the amylase in your body is made by your pancreas. The rest comes from your salivary glands.  This test is used to find out whether your pancreas or your salivary glands are swollen. If you have a pancreatic disorder, your amylase levels are usually higher than normal. High levels can also be caused by an infection, cancer, or even alcohol or medicines you are taking.

Why do I need this test?

You might need this test to help your doctor diagnose or manage a health problem. These problems include:

  • Pancreatitis, especially acute pancreatitis

  • Pregnancy

  • Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa

  • Digestive conditions such as perforated peptic ulcers, appendicitis, infections, or tumors

The test may also be done in an emergency.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your health care provider may also order these tests:

  • Lipase

  • Tripsinogen

  • Hematocrit

  • Liver function tests

  • Abdominal CT

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

The normal range for adults for amylase in a blood sample is 30 to 110 units per liter (U/L).

If your amylase levels are higher than normal, you may have one of many conditions. These include:

  • Sudden swelling of the pancreas (acute pancreatitis)

  • Chronic pancreatitis that suddenly gets worse

  • Cancers of the pancreas, breast, colon, ovary, or lung

  • A sore in the pancreas

  • A type of cyst in the pancreas (pancreatic pseudocysts)

  • Swelling in your abdomen (ascites)

  • Macroamylasemia, which is having an abnormal substance called macroamylase in your blood

  • Peptic ulcer that has a hole in it (perforated ulcer)

  • Death of tissue in your intestine (intestinal infarction)

  • Blockage in your intestines

  • Appendicitis

  • Sudden swelling of the gallbladder (acute cholecystitis)

  • Ruptured ectopic pregnancy

  • Salivary gland swelling

  • Swelling of the lining of your abdomen (peritonitis)

  • Burns

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis

  • Kidney problems

  • Use of drugs such as morphine

  • Alcohol use

  • Mumps

  • Tumors in the prostate

  • Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Higher levels of triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia)

Your levels may also be higher after a pancreatic procedure such as a cholangiopancreatography. They may also be higher after surgery or trauma.

Your amylase levels may be lower in these conditions:

  • Chronic pancreatitis

  • Liver failure

  • Cystic fibrosis

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.

What might affect my test results?

Certain medicines such as aspirin, medicines that contain estrogen, and pain relievers like morphine may affect your test results. Alcohol use can also affect your results. Pregnancy and having had a recent kidney transplant can also affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your health care provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.

  



Medical Reviewers:

  • Sather, Rita, RN
  • Ziegler, Olivia Walton, MS, PA-C