What Is a Lipase Test?

What Is Lipase?

A lipase test measures the amount of lipase in your blood and how well your pancreas works.
A lipase test measures the amount of lipase in your blood and how well your pancreas works.

Lipase is a type of protein that your body uses to break down food and absorb fat into the intestines. Your pancreas, stomach, and mouth all produce it.

Most people make the right amount of lipase in their pancreas -- an organ behind your stomach that helps with digestion and blood sugar control. But people with certain diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease, may not produce enough. That means they don’t get complete nutrition from their food. When you have an injury or inflammation in your pancreas, it makes extra lipase that goes into your bloodstream.

A lipase test, also known as serum lipase, checks for lipase in your blood. If the test finds more than the normal amount, it could mean your pancreas is damaged. This test helps doctors diagnose inflammation of the pancreas, also called acute pancreatitis. If you have a pancreas condition, your doctor may use routine lipase tests to monitor your disease.

Here is information you can use to understand more about what a lipase test is and what you can expect from one.

How to Prepare For a Lipase Test

You shouldn’t eat or drink anything but water for 8 to 12 hours before the test. Also, your doctor may tell you not to take medications that could affect the results. Those may include:

Tell your doctor about any other medication you take, such as:

What to Expect During the Lipase Blood Test

For the test, a medical professional will draw blood from a vein in your arm. You may feel a pinch when the needle goes in. Some people feel faint or light-headed during a blood draw. Afterward, you might bleed a little where the health care professional inserted the needle. It also may be red or sore for a day or so.

What the Lipase Test Results Mean

Results may vary based on your gender, age, and health history.

Normal Lipase Levels

Normal results are usually between 0 and 160 units of lipase per liter of blood.

Elevated Lipase Levels

If your blood test shows 3 to 10 times the normal level, then you may have acute pancreatitis.

Other causes of unusually high lipase levels include:

Low Lipase Levels

If your test shows abnormally low levels of lipase, you could have damage in the cells in your pancreas that make lipase. Cystic fibrosis can cause that kind of damage.

You can’t get lipase from any type of food. So if you’re low on it, your doctor may suggest supplements. They are available as tablets or capsules. Ask your doctor about the proper dosage. Don’t give these supplements to kids under 12 unless instructed to do so by a doctor.
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Mount Sinai: “Lipase,” “Lipase Test,” “Familial Lipoprotein Lipase Deficiency.”

Columbia University Irving Medical Center: “The Pancreas and Its Functions.”

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Lipase.”