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This article was last reviewed on
This article waslast modified on 28 July 2021.
At a Glance
Why Get Tested?

To diagnose and monitor pancreatitis or other pancreatic disease

When To Get Tested?

When you have symptoms of a pancreatic disease, such as severe abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite or nausea

Sample Required?

A blood sample taken from a vein in the arm

Test Preparation Needed?


On average it takes 7 working days for the blood test results to come back from the hospital, depending on the exact tests requested. Some specialist test results may take longer, if samples have to be sent to a reference (specialist) laboratory. The X-ray & scan results may take longer. If you are registered to use the online services of your local practice, you may be able to access your results online. Your GP practice will be able to provide specific details.

If the doctor wants to see you about the result(s), you will be offered an appointment. If you are concerned about your test results, you will need to arrange an appointment with your doctor so that all relevant information including age, ethnicity, health history, signs and symptoms, laboratory and other procedures (radiology, endoscopy, etc.), can be considered.

Lab Tests Online-UK is an educational website designed to provide patients and carers with information on laboratory tests used in medical care. We are not a laboratory and are unable to comment on an individual's health and treatment.

Reference ranges are dependent on many factors, including patient age, sex, sample population, and test method, and numeric test results can have different meanings in different laboratories.

For these reasons, you will not find reference ranges for the majority of tests described on this web site. The lab report containing your test results should include the relevant reference range for your test(s). Please consult your doctor or the laboratory that performed the test(s) to obtain the reference range if you do not have the lab report.

For more information on reference ranges, please read Reference Ranges and What They Mean.

What is being tested?

Lipase is an enzyme manufactured primarily by the pancreas. It is released into the duodenum to help digest fatty foods. Small amounts are present in blood. When pancreatic cells are inflamed as in pancreatitis or when its path into the duodenum is blocked by a gallstone or, rarely, a pancreatic tumour, increased amounts of lipase pass into the blood.

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Common Questions
  • How is it used?

    The blood test for lipase may be used along with a test for amylase to help diagnose pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and other pancreatic diseases. It is also used to a lesser extent in the diagnosis and follow-up of cystic fibrosis, coeliac disease, and Crohn's disease.

  • When is it requested?

    A lipase test may be used if you show symptoms of a pancreatic disorder, such as severe abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, or nausea and to monitor the effect of treatment.

  • What does the test result mean?

    Normal values for lipase depend on the test used to measure it. In acute pancreatitis, lipase concentrations are very high, often 2 to 5 times normal. Slightly high lipase values may occur in other conditions such as kidney disease, salivary gland inflammation, or peptic ulcer disease. Occasionally lipase is high due to a tumour (cancer). A rapid and sharp rise of lipase in the blood within hours after the beginning of an attack, and a decline after about 4 days, usually indicates acute pancreatitis.

  • Is there anything else I should know?

    In acute pancreatitis, the changes seen in lipase concentrations are usually similar to those of another pancreatic enzyme called amylase, but remains elevated longer (for 5 to 7 days).

    Lipase and amylase are sometimes used together to diagnose acute pancreatitis. Either lipase or amylase may be requested to help diagnose acute pancreatitis.  Either test may also be used to monitor chronic pancreatitis. They may be moderately elevated in chronic pancreatic disease but levels can fall if the cells that produce amylase and lipase in the pancreas become damaged or destroyed. Drugs that may interfere with maintaining proper lipase levels include codeine, indomethacin and morphine.

  • What are the long-term consequences of pancreatitis?

    Acute pancreatitis usually causes no long term damage, and often no further problems develop. Chronic pancreatitis may follow a series of acute attacks, but is almost always due to many years of alcohol abuse (although other conditions such as cystic fibrosis can also damage the pancreas). It causes permanent pancreatic damage with scarring and calcium deposits. Some people develop insulin-dependent diabetes (as insulin is produced by the pancreas, as well as digestive enzymes). There is often difficulty digesting foods, especially fats, causing abdominal pain, pale, bulky, greasy stools and loss of weight. Symptoms can often be controlled but the damage to the pancreas is usually irreversible.

  • What are the treatment options for pancreatitis?

    Treatment depends upon the symptoms. If they are absent or mild, there may be no treatment. Acute pancreatitis causes severe pain that needs drug treatment and often causes vomiting with fluid loss that needs replacement by vein. Your doctor may suggest 'resting the pancreas' by a spectrum of options ranging from not eating solid foods to a low-fat diet and frequent small meals. If you have chronic pancreatitis your doctor will strongly advise you to refrain from drinking alcohol. A low fat diet and oral pancreatic enzyme replacement are other possible choices.

  • Do elevated lipase results always mean I have a pancreatic condition?

    In pancreatitis, the lipase concentration in the bloodstream rises quickly, but begins to drop in about 4 days. In other conditions, the rise is usually not as great, and the concentration is maintained for a longer period. Your doctor is the best one to determine if you have a pancreatic disorder based on your symptoms, medical history, and test results.