Pancreatic cells and salivary glands produce a digestive enzyme known as amylase (S-Amyl) in the small intestine. Its purpose is to break down starch from food. Normally, small amounts of amylase enter the bloodstream, but in connection with pancreatitis, the cells are damaged and high amounts of amylase end up in the bloodstream. Because amylase is excreted through the kidneys with urine, the level of amylase can also be measured from urine.
When is a good time to measure amylase levels?
Checking amylase levels is a good idea in the following situations:
- Severe belt-like upper stomach pain
- The pain may radiate to the back
- Vomiting and nausea
- To exclude pancreatitis, pancreatic tumour, or gallstones, for example
- Swelling and pain of the salivary glands
- Follow-up of recovery from pancreatitis
What does an amylase test measure?
The amylase test indicates the concentration of amylase in the blood or urine, depending on the sample. The test is used for diagnosing acute pancreatitis and other diseases of the pancreas.
How to interpret the S-Amyl test result?
Normally, the result is:
- S-Amyl: 25 – 120 U/l (blood test)
By examining which proportion of the amylase is from the pancreas and which from the salivary glands, the concentration of amylase isoenzyme (S-Amyl-Is) can be determined.
What can cause elevated amylase values?
Typically, high amylase values are seen in pancreatitis and bile duct obstruction. As a result of inflammation, the amylase level in the blood increases manyfold within approximately 8–12 hours from the onset. When the cause of the disease has been eliminated, amylase values typically normalise within approximately 48–72 hours. A rapid decrease in amylase levels is possible, because amylase is rapidly excreted through the kidneys.
Amylase levels can also increase for other reasons. Elevated levels can also be seen in pancreatic tumours, in diseases of the gastrointestinal region, after vomiting, and in kidney failure.
Some tissues also excrete an amylase-like enzyme, which may have an impact on the results. Sometimes this can make interpretation more difficult. Amylase is also excreted from the salivary glands. Therefore, amylase levels increase in diseases of the salivary glands (e.g. salivary gland infection). A similar enzyme is also excreted by other tissues (lungs, ovaries, and prostate), as a result of which salivary amylase can be elevated.
In addition, use of narcotics and alcoholism elevate the level of salivary amylase.
What can cause decreased amylase values?
Amylase values decrease in connection with long-term pancreatic failure.
The most typical additional S-Amyl tests:
- Creatinine indicates kidney function (2143 S-Krea)
SYNLAB test list: Amylase (1078 S-Amyl, 4589 P-Amyl, 1080 U-Amyl) https://www2.synlab.fi/laboratoriokasikirja/tutkimuskuvaukset/amylaasi/
SYNLAB tests: Amylase https://www.yml.fi/tuotekuvaus_show.php?tuotenro=33
Terveyskirjasto health library: Amylaasi (P-Amyl) https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/terveyskirjasto/tk.koti?p_artikkeli=snk03110&p_hakusana=amylaasi
Fasting is not required
This examination does not require fasting