Lipase Test

Definition

Lipase is a protein (enzyme) released by the pancreas into the small intestine. It helps the body absorb fat by breaking the fat down into fatty acids.

This article discusses the test used to measure the amount of the lipase in the blood.

How the test is performed

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture.

How to prepare for the test

Do not eat for 8 hours before the test.

Your health care provider may ask you to stop taking drugs that may affect the test, such as:

  • Bethanechol
  • Birth control pills
  • Cholinergic medications
  • Codeine
  • Indomethacin
  • Meperidine
  • Methacholine
  • Morphine
  • Thiazide diuretics

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

This test is done to check the pancreas for disease, most often acute pancreatitis.

Lipase appears in the blood when the pancreas is damaged.

Normal Values

0 to 160 units per liter (U/L).

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What abnormal results mean

Higher-than-normal levels may be due to:

  • Blockage of the bowel
  • Celiac disease
  • Cholecystitis (with effects on the pancreas)
  • Duodenal ulcer
  • Gastroenteritis (severe)
  • Macrolipasemia
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis -- acute or chronic

This test may also be done forfamilial lipoprotein lipase deficiency.

What the risks are

There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Owyang C. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 147.

Tenner S, Steinberg WM. Acute pancreatitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 58.

Review Date: 2/4/2011

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Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.