Reasons, Preparation and Results of Lipase Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Lipase is a digestive enzyme that is critical for the absorption and digestion of the nutrients in your intestines. It is responsible for breaking down fats, especially triglycerides. Once these fats are broken down, they become easy to absorb in the intestines. This enzyme is mainly produced in the pancreas, but may also be generated from the stomach and mouth. In short, lipase assists in food absorption and healthy appropriation of nutrients throughout the body.

A lipase test, as the name goes, is administered to measure the amount of this enzyme in your blood sample. A high amount of lipase in the blood is usually an indication of a damaged pancreas or blocked pancreatic duct.

Reasons Why It is Ordered

Early symptoms that prompt a lipase test include severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and/or fever.

A lipase test is ordered when a doctor suspects pancreatitis or other such pancreatic diseases. It is also ordered to check if the treatment for pancreatitis is effective. Cystic fibrosis is another condition that can be diagnosed through a lipase test.


This is a regulation blood test and requires no special preparation. However, you do need to inform your doctor if you are under any medication.

Lipase Blood Test

The blood test is done in a matter of minutes. The lab technician will wrap your upper arm tightly to stop blood flow; this will cause the vein in your arm to fill up with blood and bulge prominently. Once the vein (puncture site) is identified, the area is cleansed with an alcohol swab and a needle is inserted into the vein. A tube attached to the needle will fill with blood immediately, and when sufficient blood is taken, the arm band is loosened and the needle withdrawn. You will be given a gauze or cotton pad to press tightly on the puncture site. This is to stop further bleeding. Your sample is collected, labeled, and ready to be tested.

This test is usually ordered along with an amylase test, as both these tests help to diagnose as well as to monitor pancreatic disorders. Lipase tests are sometimes also ordered to diagnose or follow up on Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and cystic fibrosis.

Interpretation of Lipase Levels

If lipase levels are very high (nearly five or ten times more than the reference value mentioned in your lab report), it indicates acute pancreatitis. In severe pancreatitis, lipase levels rise within a couple of days of a pancreatic attack and remain high for nearly a week. Lipase concentrations also increase when there is pancreatic cancer, pancreatic duct blockage, or any other pancreatic disorder.

If lipase levels are moderately high, it could be an indication of conditions like kidney disease, bowel obstruction, peptic ulcer disease, or salivary gland inflammation. Make a note that a lipase test is not specifically ordered to monitor or diagnose any of the above conditions.

If lipase levels are lower than the range mentioned in the report, it could imply permanent damage of the lipase producing cells in your pancreas.

Needless to say, if your lipase levels are well within the range, it means you don't have any pancreatic disorder.