Pancreas Blood Test

Your healthcare provider may order a pancreas blood test if you have symptoms of pancreatitis or another pancreatic disorder. This blood test can determine if you have elevated levels of the digestive enzymes amylase and lipase in your bloodstream. Levels that are three times the normal amount may mean you have pancreatitis or pancreas damage.


What is a pancreas blood test?

A pancreas blood test is a blood test to check pancreas function. Pancreas blood tests measure the levels of certain digestive enzymes your pancreas produces. These tests can check for how much of these enzymes are in your bloodstream.


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What are pancreas blood tests used for?

Pancreas blood tests can detect problems with your pancreas. They can be used to diagnose acute pancreatitis and other conditions.

What are the different types of pancreas blood tests?

Your pancreas produces many different digestive enzymes. Two important enzymes are amylase and lipase. Two types of pancreas blood tests are the amylase test and the lipase test.

  • Amylase: The amylase enzyme helps your body digest carbs. The amylase test checks for elevated levels of the amylase enzyme.
  • Lipase: The lipase enzyme helps your body digest fats. The lipase test checks for elevated levels of the lipase enzyme.


When would a pancreas blood test be needed?

Your healthcare provider may order a pancreas blood test when you have symptoms of acute pancreatitis or another condition in your pancreas. Pancreas blood tests also can be used to confirm or rule out pancreatitis.

What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?

Symptoms of pancreatitis may include:


Test Details

How is the pancreas blood test done?

The pancreas blood test is a blood draw. Your healthcare provider will take a small amount of blood from a vein in your arm.

How do I prepare for the pancreas blood test?

Since the blood is drawn from your arm, you may feel more comfortable wearing a loose-fitting or short-sleeve shirt. Your healthcare provider will easily be able to access your arm.

What should I expect during the pancreas blood test?

The pancreas blood test is a blood draw from a vein in your arm. Your healthcare provider will clean the skin around your vein. They will tie an elastic band around your upper arm to apply pressure. This allows blood to fill your vein.

Your healthcare provider will insert a small needle into your vein. Blood will be collected in a small tube. The process should take no longer than one to two minutes. Your healthcare provider will remove the elastic band and put a bandage on your arm. Your blood will be sent to a laboratory.

What to expect after the test?

Your arm may feel a bit sore and there may be a bruise where the blood was drawn. Side effects may include fainting, excessive bleeding and infection, but these are rare.

Results and Follow-Up

What are the normal values of the enzymes checked in pancreas blood tests?

The normal blood amylase value in a healthy person is 23 to 85 units per liter (U/L). In some labs, the range goes up to 140 U/L. The normal blood lipase value in a healthy person is 0 to 160 U/L.

What do abnormal pancreas blood test results mean?

If your lipase levels are elevated, you may need further tests. These levels alone can’t determine the severity of pancreatitis. The tests may include:

If your amylase levels are elevated, your healthcare provider will see there’s a problem, but it may not be with your pancreas. Lipase levels compared to amylase levels show more specific results for the pancreas.

Higher levels of amylase and lipase in your bloodstream may mean you have pancreatitis or damage to your pancreas. Amylase and lipase will typically be elevated three times the normal levels if you have acute pancreatitis.

When should I call my doctor?

If you have severe abdominal pain, call your healthcare provider right away. They will look at your medical history and the results of your amylase and lipase enzyme tests. Your healthcare provider will decide if other tests are needed and what type of treatment you should start on.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

If you have symptoms of pancreatitis, it’s important to get a pancreas blood test. Pancreas blood tests are done by drawing blood from a vein in your arm. Your blood will be sent off for analysis in a lab. Results will help your healthcare provider determine if further tests are needed. Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have severe abdominal pain. Your healthcare provider will talk to you about your symptoms, evaluate your pancreas blood test results and determine a plan for treatment.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 07/12/2022.

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