Skip to content
Font Size

Amylase

An amylase test measures the amount of this enzyme in a sample of blood taken from a vein or in a sample of urine.

Normally, only low levels of amylase are found in the blood or urine. But if the pancreas camera.gif or salivary glands camera.gif become damaged or blocked, more amylase is usually released into the blood and urine. In the blood, amylase levels rise for only a short time. In the urine, amylase may remain high for several days.

Why It Is Done

A test for amylase is done to:

  • Find pancreatitis and other pancreatic diseases.
  • See if the treatment for pancreatitis and other pancreatic diseases is working.
  • Check swelling and inflammation of the salivary glands.

How To Prepare

To prepare for an amylase test:

  • Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours before the test.
  • For a blood test for amylase, do not eat or drink anything except water for at least 2 hours before having the test.
  • For a 24-hour urine test for amylase, be sure to drink enough fluids during the test to prevent dehydration.

Many medicines may affect the results of this test. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the nonprescription and prescription medicines you take.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

Blood test

The health professional drawing your blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put the needle in the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle in the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.

Urine test

Amylase can be measured in a 24-hour or 2-hour urine sample.

A 24-hour urine sample is all of the urine you produce over a 24-hour period.

  • You start collecting your urine in the morning. When you first get up, empty your bladder but do not save this urine. Write down the time that you urinated to mark the beginning of your 24-hour collection period.
  • For the next 24 hours, collect all your urine. Your doctor or lab will usually provide you with a large container that holds about 1 gal (4 L). The container has a small amount of preservative in it. Urinate into a small, clean container and then pour the urine into the large container. Do not touch the inside of the container with your fingers.
  • Keep the large container in the refrigerator for the 24 hours.
  • Empty your bladder for the final time at or just before the end of the 24-hour period. Add this urine to the large container and record the time.
  • Do not get toilet paper, pubic hair, stool (feces), menstrual blood, or other foreign matter in the urine sample.

A 2-hour urine sample is all of the urine you produce over a 2-hour period. Collect it in the same manner as the 24-hour urine sample, during the 2-hour period your health professional recommends.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
 
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
 
top foods for probiotics
Slideshow
couple eating at cafe
Article
 
sick child
Slideshow
Woman blowing bubble gum
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Slideshow
Woman with stomach pain
Slideshow
 
diet for diverticulitis
Video
what causes diarrhea
Video