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What is a Lipase test? 

A lipase test, also known as serum lipase test, is a blood test that measures the levels of the enzyme lipase levels in the bloodstream. Lipase is primarily produced by the pancreas and aids in the digestion of fats. Also, some other organs, such as stomach, liver and tongue, involved in digestion and absorption play key roles in lipase production. Generally, this enzyme is produced in small quantities. A higher than normal lipase production indicates an abnormality in the pancreas.

Pancreas is a narrow and flat organ present in the abdominal region. It is situated below the liver between the stomach and spinal cord. The head of the pancreas is connected to the first part of the small intestine, ie duodenum. Lipase formed in the pancreas enters duodenum through the pancreatic duct. In duodenum, it helps breakdown triglycerides from the diet into fatty acids thus facilitating their assimilation into the body.

  1. Why is a Lipase test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for a Lipase test?
  3. How is a Lipase test performed?
  4. What do Lipase test results indicate?

A lipase test is most often recommended to individuals who are suspected to have pancreatic conditions. Your doctor may recommend a lipase test if you are experiencing the following symptoms:

This test is also recommended in individuals undergoing treatment for pancreatic conditions to evaluate the effectiveness of the therapy and monitor the state of the pancreas.

Individuals suffering from familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency, a rare genetic disorder are also advised this test often.

You will be asked to fast for about 8-12 hours before the test. No food or drink should be consumed during fasting.

Some drugs can alter test results. So, inform your doctor about any medication, herbs, vitamins and nutritional supplement that you took in the recent past.

This test involves the collection of a blood sample from a vein in the arm or hands.

A lab-technician will first tie an elastic band called tourniquet around your arm; this causes swelling of veins and helps in easy location of a blood vessel for sample collection. The withdrawn sample will then be collected in a vial or a syringe using a needle.

In infants, the blood sample is collected from the heel by using a sterile needle or lancet.

This test does not pose any major risks, but you may notice slight bruising at the site of blood withdrawal, which will fade away soon.

Test results may vary based on numerous factors, including age, gender, health history of the patient and the method employed for testing the sample. A doctor should always be consulted for appropriate interpretation of results.

Normal results: The normal range of lipase for adults younger than 60 years is 0-160 U/litre (L) or 0-2.67 microkat/L.

Normal values may slightly vary between different laboratories.

Abnormal results: Higher than normal levels indicate the presence of abnormalities in the pancreas. Lipase levels 3-10 times the normal levels indicate acute pancreatitis, ie inflammation of the pancreas with a sudden onset. High lipase levels can also be observed due to the following:

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.  

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References

  1. Ridgeview Medical Center. Lipase test. Waconia, Minnesota
  2. University of Rochester Medical Center. Lipase. Rochester, New York
  3. Chamara Basnayake, Dilip Ratnam. Blood tests for acute pancreatitis. Aust Prescr. 2015 Aug; 38(4): 128–130. PMID: 26648641
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [internet]: US Department of Health and Human Services; Definition & Facts for Pancreatitis
  5. Mark Feldman, Lawrence S. Friedman, Lawrence J. Brandt . Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2015
  6. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Lipoprotein Lipase Deficiency (LPLD). USA [internet].