Serum total amylase measurement is used in the investigation of pancreatitis and pancreatic function.
Amylase is an enzyme found mainly in the pancreas and salivary glands and in very small amounts in the liver, small intestinal epithelium, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. The function of amylase is to digest complex carbohydrates. Serum amylase is usually measured for the differential diagnosis of abdominal pain due to acute pancreatitis and abdominal pain from other causes. Serum amylase begins to rise 3 to 6 hours after the onset of acute pancreatitis and peak in about 24 hours. The values return to normal within 2 to 3 days after the onset of the disease.
Serum amylase and/or lipase levels (another pancreatic enzyme) can be considered diagnostic when their values are at least 3 times higher than normal.
As amylase is produced by many organs, it is not a specific indicator of pancreatic function. Elevated amylase levels may also be observed in certain non-pancreatic pathological conditions, including mumps, salivary gland obstruction, ectopic pregnancy, intestinal obstruction, and intestinal infarction.
What Do Pathological Values Mean?
- Increase: Acute pancreatitis, alcoholism, biliary obstruction, cholelithiasis, diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperlipidemia, hyperthyroidism, salivary gland inflammation, mumps, gastrointestinal perforation, perforated ulcer, pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy rupture. Medications: paracetamol, antibiotics, aspirin and salicylates, corticosteroids, estrogens, furosemide, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs), prednisone, thiazide diuretics.
- Decrease: Liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, pancreatic cancer, severe burns, severe thyrotoxicosis. Medications: citric compounds, glucose, oxalates.
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.