Lipase Tests

What is a lipase test?

Lipase is a type of protein made by your pancreas, an organ located near your stomach. Lipase helps your body digest fats. It’s normal to have a small amount of lipase in your blood. But, a high level of lipase can mean you have pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, or another type of pancreas disease. Blood tests are the most common way of measuring lipase.

Other names: serum lipase, lipase, LPS

What is it used for?

A lipase test may be used to:

  • Diagnose pancreatitis or another disease of the pancreas
  • Find out if there is a blockage in your pancreas
  • Check for chronic diseases that affect the pancreas, including cystic fibrosis

Why do I need a lipase test?

You may need a lipase test if you have symptoms of a pancreas disease. These include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe back pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

You may also need a lipase test if you certain risk factors for pancreatitis. These include:

  • A family history of pancreatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Gallstones
  • High triglycerides
  • Obesity

You may also be at a higher risk if you are a smoker or heavy alcohol user.

What happens during a lipase test?

A lipase test is usually in the form of a blood test. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Lipase can also be measured in urine. Usually, a lipase urine test can be taken at any time of day, with no special preparation needed.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for 8–12 hours before a lipase blood test. If your health care provider has ordered a lipase urine test, be sure to ask if you need to follow any special instructions.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

There are no known risks to a urine test.

What do the results mean?

A high level of lipase may indicate:

  • Pancreatitis
  • A blockage in the pancreas
  • Kidney disease
  • Peptic ulcer
  • A problem with your gall bladder

A low level of lipase may mean there is damage to cells in the pancreas that make lipase. This happens in certain chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

If your lipase levels are not normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Certain medicines, including codeine and birth control pills, can affect your lipase results. If you have questions about your lipase test results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a lipase test?

A lipase test is commonly used to diagnose pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis is a short-term condition that usually goes away after a few days of treatment. Chronic pancreatitis is a long-lasting condition that gets worse over time. But it can be managed with medicine and lifestyle changes, such as quitting drinking. Your health care provider may also recommend surgery to repair the problem in your pancreas.

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