Amylase, Serum

What is it?

Amylase (am-uh-lase) is an enzyme (n-zime) released by the pancreas (pan-kree-us). An enzyme is a protein that speeds up a chemical reaction in your body. The pancreas is a small organ located near the stomach. Many of the enzymes released from the pancreas help break food down so it can be used by your body. Amylase is most specific for pancreatitis (pan-kree-uh-ti-tis). Pancreatitis is inflammation (swelling) of the pancreas.

Why do I need it?

Your caregiver may want to get an amylase level if you have stomach pain. An amylase level can help tell if the pain is caused by pancreatitis. The amylase level is also helpful to see how the treatment for pancreatitis is working. For more information, ask your caregiver for the CareNotes™ handout on pancreatitis.

How do I get ready for the test?

Your caregiver will tell you when you need to have your blood taken. The blood test may be done before or after eating.

How is the specimen collected?

A caregiver will put a wide rubber strap around your arm and tighten it. Your skin will be cleaned with alcohol. A small needle attached to a special test tube will be put into a vein in your arm or hand. The tube has suction to pull the blood into it. When the tube is full, the rubber strap, needle and tube are removed. The caregiver will press a piece of cotton where the needle was removed. You may be asked to hold the cotton on the site for a few minutes to help stop the bleeding. Tape may then be put over the cotton on your arm.

What do I do after the test?

You may remove the tape and cotton in about 20 to 30 minutes. Call your caregiver to get the results of your test. Your caregiver will explain what your test results mean for you. Follow the instructions of your caregiver.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your lab tests. You can then discuss the results with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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