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Also known as: Amy
Formal name: Amylase
Related tests: Lipase, Trypsin, Trypsinogen

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Location of the pancreas

Amylase is one of several enzymes produced by the pancreas to help digest carbohydrates. This test measures the amount of amylase in the blood or urine or sometimes in peritoneal fluid.

Amylase is secreted through the pancreatic duct into the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), where it helps break down dietary carbohydrates. It is also produced by other organs, particularly the salivary glands.

Amylase is usually present in the blood and urine in small quantities. When cells in the pancreas are injured, as happens with pancreatitis, or when the pancreatic duct is blocked by a gallstone or by a pancreatic tumor in rare cases, increased amounts of amylase are released into the blood. This increases concentrations of amylase in the blood and also in the urine as amylase is eliminated from the blood through the urine.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm. Sometimes a random urine sample, a 24-hour urine sample, or peritoneal fluid is collected.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.