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Lipase

Test Overview

A lipase test measures the amount of this enzyme in a blood sample. High amounts of lipase may be found in the blood when the pancreas is damaged or when the tube leading from the pancreas (pancreatic duct) to the beginning of the small intestine is blocked.

Why It Is Done

A lipase test is done to:

  • Check for pancreatitis and other diseases of the pancreas.
  • See if the treatment for pancreatitis is working.
  • Help check for cystic fibrosis or see if treatment for it is working.

How To Prepare

Do not eat or drink anything except water for 8 to 12 hours before having a lipase test.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information formmedical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

Blood test

The health professional taking a sample of your blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

Results

Normal

A lipase test measures the amount of this enzyme in a blood sample. Results are normally available within 12 hours.

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Lipase1
Adults age 60 and younger:

10–140 units per liter (U/L) or 0.17–2.3 microkatals/liter (mckat/L)

Adults older than age 60:

18–180 units per liter (U/L) or 0.30–3.0 mckat/L

High values

A high lipase level may be caused by:

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

What To Think About

  • You can have a high lipase level even when you do not have any problems with your pancreas.
  • A test for amylase, another enzyme produced by the pancreas, is often done at the same time as a test for lipase. Measuring both amylase and lipase sometimes can help determine the cause of a high amylase level. To learn more, see the topic Amylase.
  • The lipase test is more accurate than the amylase test for diagnosing pancreatitis.
  • Other blood tests that may be done at the same time as a test for lipase include calcium, glucose, phosphorus, triglycerides, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and creatinine.

References

Citations

  1. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
Current as of March 8, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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