Lipase test

Definition 
A blood test that measures the amount of the enzyme lipase.

How the test is performed 
Adult or child:
Blood is drawn from a vein (venipuncture), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The puncture site is cleaned with antiseptic, and a tourniquet (an elastic band) or blood pressure cuff is placed around the upper arm to apply pressure and restrict blood flow through the vein. This causes veins below the tourniquet to distend (fill with blood).

A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. During the procedure, the tourniquet is removed to restore circulation. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.

Infant or young child:
The area is cleansed with antiseptic and punctured with a sharp needle or a lancet. The blood may be collected in a pipette (small glass tube), on a slide, onto a test strip, or into a small container. Cotton or a bandage may be applied to the puncture site if there is any continued bleeding.

How to prepare for the test  
Fast for 8 hours before the test.
The health care provider may advise you to withhold drugs that may affect the test (see special considerations).

Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child’s age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child’s age:

     
  • infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)  
  • toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)  
  • preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)  
  • schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)  
  • adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel  
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed  
This test may be measured to evaluate pancreas function.

Lipase is an enzyme secreted by the pancreas into the small intestines. It catalyzes the breakdown of triglycerides into fatty acids. As with amylase, lipase appears in the blood following damage to the pancreatic acinar cells.

Normal Values  
0 to 160 U/L. Normal values may vary, depending on the laboratory.

Note: U/L = units per liter

What abnormal results mean  
Greater-than-normal levels may indicate:

     
  • pancreatitis  
  • pancreatic cancer  
  • cholecystitis (with secondary effect on the pancreas)

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

     
  • chronic pancreatitis  
  • familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency

What the risks are  

     
  • excessive bleeding  
  • fainting or feeling light-headed  
  • hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)  
  • infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)  
  • multiple punctures to locate veins

Special considerations  
Drugs that may alter test results include bethanechol, cholinergic medications, codeine, indomethacin, meperidine, methacholine, and morphine.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Armen E. Martirosyan, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.