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
· Adults up to age 60 yrs: 25-125 units per litre (U/L)
· Adults older than age 60 yrs: 24-151 U/L