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Lipase is a protein (enzyme) released by the pancreas into the small intestine. It helps the body absorb fat. This test is used to measure the amount of the lipase in the blood.
How the test is performed
A sample of blood will be taken from a vein.
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 medicines that may affect the test, such as:
- Birth control pills
- Cholinergic medications
- Thiazide diuretics
How the test will feel
You may feel slight pain on a sting when the needle is inserted to draw blood. There may be some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn. Veins and arteries vary in size so it may be harder to take a blood sample from one person than another.
Why the test is performed
This test is done to check for disease of the pancreas, most often acute pancreatitis.
Lipase appears in the blood when the pancreas is damaged.
In general, normal results are 0 to 160 units per liter (U/L).
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different labs. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your test results.
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 (bowel obstruction)
- Celiac disease
- Duodenal ulcer
- Cancer of the pancreas
- Infection of swelling of the pancreas
This test may also be done for familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency.
What the risks are
There is very little risk from your blood taken.
Other uncommon risks may include:
- Bleeding from the needle puncture site
- Fainting or feeling light-headed
- Blood collecting under the skin
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Forsmark CE. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 146.
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.
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.