What Is a Lipase Blood Test? Everything to Know

Medically Reviewed By Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C
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Lipase is a type of enzyme created in the pancreas. A lipase blood test can detect elevated levels of lipase. This may indicate conditions such as pancreatitis. Your doctor may order a lipase blood test if you have symptoms of a pancreatic condition. They also may order the test if you are at risk of pancreatitis. Your doctor may request a lipase blood test alongside or instead of a lipase urine test.

This guide explains when you may require a lipase blood test and what to expect. It also discusses what test results may mean, when to contact a doctor, and more.

What is a lipase blood test?

There are rows of blood vials.
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A lipase blood test is a test that checks serum lipase levels. The test can help diagnose conditions of the pancreas.

The pancreas makes the enzyme lipase to help your body digest fat. It is typical to have a low level of lipase in your blood.

A high level of lipase may indicate that your pancreas is not working as it should.

Learn more about the role of the pancreas.

When do I need a lipase blood test?

Your doctor may recommend a lipase blood test if you have symptoms of pancreatic conditions.

Symptoms can include:

Your doctor may also recommend a lipase blood test if you are at risk of pancreatitis.

Risk factors for pancreatitis include:

Contact your doctor if you have concerns about the risk factors of pancreatitis.

Learn more about pancreatitis.

A lipase blood test may be part of a series of tests for diagnosing conditions affecting the pancreas.

Your doctor may order a lipase blood test for these possible conditions:

How do I prepare for a lipase blood test?

Your doctor can explain how to prepare for your blood test.

They may request that you not eat or drink anything except water for about 12 hours beforehand. In this case, your doctor may try to schedule your blood test in the morning.

Ask your doctor any questions you have before the test. This will help you feel prepared.

What happens during a lipase blood test?

A lipase blood test involves taking a sample of blood with a small needle. Your doctor or other healthcare professional will usually take this from a vein in your arm.

They will insert the needle into your arm and collect a small sample of blood in a vial or tube. You may feel a stinging sensation when they insert the needle.

The whole process should take no more than 5 minutes.

Learn more about what to expect during a blood test.

How long will it take to get my test results?

You may get your test results either the same day or a few days later. This depends on the facilities at the clinic or hospital where you get your test.

Your doctor will tell you when you should expect your blood test results.

What do my lipase blood test results mean?

A high level of lipase may indicate a problem with your pancreas. In particular, high lipase levels can indicate either acute or chronic pancreatitis.

A low level of lipase may suggest damage to the cells that make lipase. Chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis can cause this to happen.

Your doctor will be able to explain your lipase test results to you. You may ask any questions about what your test results mean.

When should I contact a doctor?

Contact your doctor as soon as you experience symptoms of pancreatitis or other pancreatic conditions.

Your doctor can carry out a physical examination and recommend tests to help confirm a diagnosis.

Are there any alternatives to a lipase blood test?

You will generally require a lipase blood test if your doctor suspects pancreatitis. However, your doctor may arrange for other tests.

Tests your doctor may order for diagnosing conditions of the pancreas include:

Summary

A lipase blood test involves taking a small sample of blood to check your serum lipase levels. A high level of lipase may indicate that your pancreas is not working as it should.

Your doctor may order a lipase blood test if they suspect you have a condition such as pancreatitis. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, abdominal or back pain, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Contact your doctor as soon as you experience symptoms of pancreatitis. Your doctor can carry out a physical examination and recommend tests to help with a diagnosis. Tests may include a lipase blood test.

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Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 2
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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  2. Basnayake, C., et al. (2015). Blood tests for acute pancreatitis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4653980/
  3. Lipase tests. (2022). https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/lipase-tests/
  4. Overview: Blood tests. (2018). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/blood-tests/