Amylase Test

What Is Amylase Test?

An amylase test is a type of medical diagnostic test used to measure the levels of amylase, an enzyme produced by the pancreas, in the body. Amylase is primarily responsible for breaking down carbohydrates and other substances found in certain foods, so when the levels of amylase in the body are abnormal, it can be an indication of disease or disorder. Conditions such as pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes may be indicated by an abnormal amylase test result.

Why Is an Amylase Test Conducted?

An amylase test is typically conducted when a person is experiencing abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the upper right part of the abdomen. This pain may indicate a number of conditions and an amylase test can be used to help narrow down the diagnosis. Lab tests for other enzymes produced by the pancreas, such as lipase and trypsin, are often conducted along with the amylase test to get a better picture of what's going on in the body.

How to Prepare for an Amylase Test?

Since amylase is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth, it is important not to eat, drink, or smoke for at least one hour prior to taking the test. It is also important to let the doctor know about any medications you are taking, as some drugs can interfere with the results of the test. It may also be necessary to fast the night before the test, in which case you should not eat or drink anything after midnight.

Amylase Test Procedure

The actual procedure for the amylase test is relatively simple and typically comprises of the following steps:

  • A blood sample will be taken using a needle inserted into a vein.
  • The sample will then be sent to the lab for analysis to determine the levels of amylase in the blood sample.
  • The doctor will then receive the results of the test within a few days.

Types of Amylase Tests

There are three main types of amylase tests: serum amylase, serum amylase isozyme, and urinary amylase.

  • Serum Amylase: This test measures the total amount of amylase present in the blood. It can help diagnose and differentiate between pancreatic and salivary gland disorders.
  • Serum Amylase Isozyme: This test is used to measure the amount of a particular type of amylase called amylase isoenzyme. This test can be used to specifically distinguish between disorders of pancreatic origin or salivary gland disorders.
  • Urinary Amylase: This test measures the amount of amylase present in the urine. It is most often used to help diagnose pancreatitis or to rule it out if other causes of abdominal pain are suspected.

Risks of Amylase Tests

The amylase test is generally considered a safe procedure. It involves minimal risk, such as the risk of bruising or discomfort at the injection site, slight bleeding, infection, and a feeling of lightheadedness or faintness. Rarely, more serious complications may occur.

When Is an Amylase Test Needed?

An amylase test should be performed whenever abdominal pain or tenderness is present, particularly in the upper right portion of the abdomen, as this type of pain can indicate any number of serious medical conditions. An amylase test is also sometimes conducted when a person has been diagnosed with a pancreatic or salivary gland disorder to help determine the extent of the disorder.