If your physician has ordered an amylase blood test, then you probably have a lot of questions. What is the test ordered for? What do the results mean? Learn about the amylase test, factors that may affect results, and what those results may mean.
What is the Amylase Blood Test?
The amylase blood test, commonly referred to as just Amy, is a test that may be ordered by a physician when they suspect the patient may have a condition of the pancreas or after removal of gallstones. Amylase is an enzyme that is created by various organs of the body, including the pancreas and saliva glands. When problems arise as a result of a disorder of the pancreas, the levels of amylase will ultimately be affected.
How the Procedure is Performed
The amylase test is a simple procedure that is performed in the physician's office. Blood is drawn from the patient via the arm in most cases and there is typically no special preparation required for this type of testing. However, if the physician has ordered multiple tests, other preparations may apply.
The patient should always check with his or her physician prior to the scheduled visit to be sure. In some cases, a urine amylase test and/or a lipase test may be ordered in combination with the Amy test. This will be dependent upon the individual circumstances and other factors.
Amylase Blood Test Results
Low or high amylase levels can often indicate the presence of disease, disorder, or injury to the pancreas. While a high level can prove significant for problems the patient is currently encountering, low levels of amylase can be just as critical.
As a matter of fact, extremely low levels of amylase may indicate that the damage to the pancreas and/or pancreatic cells is that of a permanent nature. Results of the amylase testing will vary considerably from one lab to the next, depending on the particular methods used by the laboratory.
Factors That May Affect Results
As with other types of testing, the results of the amylase test results can be affected by certain medications that the patient may be taking. The individual should tell the physician if they are using an oral form of contraceptive, opiates(pain medications such as codeine), ethyl alcohol, certain classes of steriods, and indomethacin, as all of these things can alter the results of this blood test. Those who are currently using diuretics and aspirin may also have inaccurate amylase test results. Most commonly, these particular medications will increase the levels of amylase in the blood.
Other Useful Information
Although abnormal amylase blood test results can be a good indicator of disorder and/or disease of the pancreas, increased or decreased levels can be indicative of other non related disorders. This can include various gastroentestinal disorders, tubal pregnancy, infection present in the saliva glands and kidneys to name only a few. However, the amylase test is not used to detect these conditions and only a physician can diagnose the particular condition the patient may have.
Amylase. Lab Tests Online. Last Modified 7, February 2010. Viewed 23, February 2010. 2001-2010 American Association for Clinical Chemistry. http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/amylase/test.html#what.
Amylase-blood. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Institute of Health. Updated 28, January 2009. Viewed 23, February 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003464.htm.