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Also known as:

  • Amy test,
  • serum amylase, 

What is a serum Amylase Test?

An amylase test is carried out to measure the amount of amylase in your blood. Amylase is an enzyme, or you can say a unique protein. Your pancreas produces 40% of the amylase, while the remaining comes from the salivary glands. The pancreas is situated behind your stomach and releases different enzymes that help break down food in the intestines. The amylase levels in your blood are too high or too low if the pancreas becomes inflamed or damaged. It indicates that you might have a pancreatic disorder, an infection, alcoholism, or another medical condition.

What is the test used for?

A serum amylase test is used when your doctor suspects a problem with your pancreas. Conditions where your doctor advises this test include:

  • Pancreatic pseudocyst
  • Pancreatic abscess
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)

In some cases, your healthcare provider may order you an amylase urine test after the serum amylase test. The results of both tests can help doctors make the diagnosis if you have a pancreas or salivary gland disorder. These tests are also used to determine serum amylase levels in patients undergoing treatment for pancreatic or other conditions.  

Why and when do you need a serum amylase test? 

Your health care provider may order a serum amylase if he suspects you have a pancreatic disorder or you are experiencing symptoms such as: 

  • Nausea 
  • vomiting
  • Abdominal ache
  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite

Some other conditions where your healthcare provider might want to check amylase levels include pregnancy and eating disorders.

What kind of sample is required for the test?

As the name indicates, a serum amylase test involves taking a sample of blood through your vein, usually in the arm. 

  1. Firstly, a healthcare provider will clean the puncture area with an antiseptic.
  2. He will then tie an elastic band around your upper arm to raise the amount of blood flow to the veins, making them prominent.
  3. The needle will be inserted into the vein. When the vein is finally punctured, the blood will be collected into a small tube.
  4. The test is not much pain, but you might feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted.
  5. Once the required amount of blood is withdrawn, the needle will be removed, and the collected blood is then sent to a lab for testing.
  6. To avoid discomfort, you will be asked to apply some pressure on the puncture site.

Do you need to prepare for the test?

 Your doctor will tell you to avoid drinking alcohol before the test. Also, certain drugs can affect your test results. It is better to discuss your current medications with your healthcare provider before the test. He will then guide you if you need to stop taking a particular medicine for a while.

Some medications that affect amylase levels in your blood are Aspirin, birth control pills, cholinergic drugs, methyldopa, codeine, meperidine, morphine, and thiazide diuretics. 

Are there any risks to the test?

Fortunately, there are only minimal risks associated with having a blood test. You may experience slight pain or bruise at the puncture site. However, the symptoms go away quickly.

What do the test results mean?

The average amount of amylase in blood differs in laboratories. Some labs define a normal range as 23 to 85 units per liter (U/L), while others believe 40 to 140 U/L. It's better to discuss your results with your doctor to understand what they mean.

If the results are too high or too low, they may indicate underlying conditions. Let's dive into the details of what could high or low amylase levels mean. 

High amylase levels:

Higher than average amylase levels could indicate conditions such as: 


Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. When enzymes that break down food start damaging the pancreatic tissues, it results in pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis suddenly occurs but goes away quickly, whereas chronic pancreatitis lasts longer. 


Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that develop in the gallbladder and cause blockages. These gallstones cause the inflammation of the gall bladder called cholecystitis. You may find elevated amylase levels if a gallstone or inflammation clogs the pancreatic duct, allowing amylase to enter the small bowel in the area.


Macro amylase is the amylase attached to a protein. When this macro amylase is developed in the blood, the condition is known as macroamylasemia. 


When a virus or bacteria attacks the gastrointestinal tract, it results in the inflammation of GIT, known as gastroenteritis. The symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.

Peptic Ulcers:

A peptic ulcer is a disease where the mucosa lining of the stomach or intestine becomes inflamed, resulting in the development of sores or ulcers. When ulcers spread through the tissues of the stomach or intestine, it is termed perforation, which is a medical emergency. 

Ectopic pregnancy:

A tubal pregnancy, also known as ectopic pregnancy, happens when the fertilized egg or embryo is in one of the fallopian tubes rather than your uterus, which means a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus.

Other conditions that may increase serum amylase levels include:

  • Vomiting
  • Alcohol use
  • Salivary gland diseases
  • Intestinal blockages

Low amylase levels:

A low amylase level may indicate conditions such as:


When you have high blood pressure during pregnancy or sometimes after giving birth, the condition is known as preeclampsia. It's also termed toxemia of pregnancy.

Kidney disease

Out of many medical conditions affecting kidneys, diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure are the most common. Always consult your doctor if you have any unusual symptoms. Also, discuss your test results with your healthcare provider to better understand the condition. Furthermore, serum amylase test alone is not enough to make a diagnosis. So, based on your results, further tests need to be carried out to rule out the disease.

Related Tests 

Lipase, Chymotrypsin, Immunoreactive Trypsinogen (IRT), Total protein, protein electrophoresis

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