Test Detail
Interpreting Results

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Written by
Dr. Shreya Gupta
BDS, MDS - Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
Reviewed by
Dr. Lalit Mohan Gupta
MBBS, MD - Microbiology
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Test Preparation
  1. No special preparation required


What is Amylase?

Amylase is an enzyme that helps in the digestion of dietary carbohydrates. It is secreted mainly by the pancreas and also by the salivary glands. The Amylase Test measures the amount of amylase in the blood.

Why is Amylase done?

·         To help in the diagnosis of acute and chronic pancreatitis

·         To help diagnose pancreatic cysts, pancreatic pseudocyst, and pancreatic abscesses

·         To determine the blockage of pancreatic ducts

·      To diagnose certain conditions affecting the digestive system like peptic ulcers, infections, appendicitis, etc.

·         To diagnose some types of tumors like pancreatic cancer

·         To monitor treatment of pancreatic diseases

What does Amylase Measure?

Amylase is an enzyme that helps in the breakdown of complex dietary carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates for absorption. Digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth since amylase is secreted by the salivary glands. However, most of the amylase is produced by the pancreas and secreted into the duodenum of the small intestine. Amylase is also found in small quantities in blood, urine and peritoneal fluid.

The levels of amylase in blood rise either due to its increased secretion into the blood or decreased clearance by the kidneys or due to both these reasons. High levels are commonly seen in acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) where the amylase levels rise rapidly (in 6 to 48 hours). In mild cases of pancreatitis, amylase levels slowly return to normal within a few days. Higher levels for longer periods indicate other complications.

Interpreting Amylase results


Normal Range:

·         Adults up to age 60 yrs: 25-125 units per litre (U/L)

·         Adults older than age 60 yrs: 24-151 U/L

Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Amylase

Frequently Asked Questions about Amylase

Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood from a blood vessel in your arm. The healthcare provider will tie an elastic band around your arm to make the blood vessels swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You will feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected will then be sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
Q. Is there any preparation required before the Amylase test?
Inform the doctor of any medications you may be taking. Fasting period of two hours is advisable before the test. No other specific preparations are usually required before the Amylase Test.
Q. What factors can affect the Amylase test results?
The Amylase levels in blood can be affected by a number of factors including: · Medications like aspirin, morphine, or estrogen containing drugs · Alcohol · Pregnancy · Recent kidney transplant · Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) Procedure
Q. What additional tests can be prescribed by your doctor in case Amylase test result is not normal?
Additional tests that may be prescribed in case of abnormal Amylase test result are: · Urine Amylase Test · Lipase Test · Amylase to Creatinine Clearance Ratio · Liver Function Tests · Kidney Function Tests · Trypsinogen Test · Abdominal CT Scan
Q. What are the causes of increased blood amylase levels?
Amylase levels in blood may be increased due to: · Acute pancreatitis · Chronic pancreatitis worsening suddenly · Pancreas, colon, ovary, breast, or lung cancers · Pancreatic tissue damage · Pancreatic pseudocysts · Abdominal swelling · Perforated peptic ulcer in the stomach · Intestinal infarction (tissue death) · Intestinal blockage · Appendicitis · Acute cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder) · Ruptured ectopic pregnancy (abnormal pregnancy) · Swelling of salivary gland such as Mumps · Peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum or abdominal lining) · Severe burns · Diabetic ketoacidosis · Kidney diseases · Drugs like morphine · Alcoholism · Prostate tumors · Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia · Inflammatory bowel diseases · Increased triglyceride levels
Q. What are the causes of decreased blood amylase levels?
Amylase levels in blood may be decreased due to: · Preeclampsia of pregnancy · Kidney diseases · Some cases of acute pancreatitis · Liver failure · Chronic pancreatitis · Congestive heart failure · Second and third trimesters of pregnancy · Fracture of bones · Gastrointestinal cancer
Q. What is acute pancreatitis?
Acute pancreatitis is a condition where there is sudden and swift inflammation of the pancreas. The condition is usually severe and may even be life threatening. Acute pancreatitis may be commonly caused by: · Autoimmune pancreatitis · Gall bladder stones · Alcohol · Metabolic disorders · Trauma and injury in the abdomen · Ulcers · Cancers · Certain drugs · Infections Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include: · Severe pain in the upper abdomen that may spread to the back · Nausea and vomiting · Recurrent hiccups · Appetite loss · Fever with shivering (chills) · Improper blood flow · Increased heartbeat (tachycardia) · Shortness of breath (dyspnea) · Peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal walls)
Q. What is Macroamylasemia?
Macroamylasemia is a condition where an abnormal substance called macroamylase is present in blood. Macroamylase is an abnormal complex of protein and amylase that is not found naturally. Macroamylasemia does not cause specific symptoms, but is found in association with conditions like HIV infection, Celiac disease, Lymphoma, Rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Blood Amylase Test shows similar results of increased amylase levels for both macroamylasemia and acute pancreatitis. These two conditions can be distinguished by urine amylase test. Levels of amylase in urine are high in acute pancreatitis, but normal in classic macroamylasemia. The reason being, the macroamylase particles (protein-amylase complex) are larger in size than amylase and hence, their filtration through kidneys is slower.
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For over a hundred years, human pathology has been one of the keystones of medicine and rightly so at SRL, we offer our patients world-class Pathology services because their well-being is of the utmost importance to us. Pathology is quite simply the scientific study of the overall response of your body to any foreign influence, i.e., disease. Actually, we use this knowledge to diagnose & subsequently treat your ailment. What we basically do is carefully compare the normal structure and function...
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