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Drugs and diseases reference index

Diseases reference index «Lipase test»

Lipase is a protein (enzyme) released by the pancreas into the small intestines. It triggers the breakdown of fat into fatty acids.

This article discusses the test to measures the amount of the lipase in the blood.

How the Test is Performed

Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.

Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.

Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.

In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.

How to Prepare for the Test

Do not eat for 8 hours before the test.

The health care provider may advise you to stop taking drugs that may affect the test. Drugs that may interfere with test results include bethanechol, cholinergic medications, codeine, indomethacin, meperidine, methacholine, and morphine.

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 is done to evaluate the pancreas for disease.

Lipase appears in the blood when the pancreas is damaged.

Normal Results

0 to 160 units per liter (U/L). Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Greater-than-normal levels may indicate:

  • Cholecystitis (with effects on the pancreas)
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Stomach ulcer or blockage
  • Viral gastroenteritis

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency


There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)