1. What are the long-term consequences of pancreatitis?
With acute pancreatitis, there is usually no long-term damage and often no further problems develop. Chronic pancreatitis, which may present as a series of acute attacks or as an ongoing upset, can cause permanent damage. As the pancreas becomes scarred, some people develop diabetes and/or the inability to digest foods, especially fats. The lack of normal pancreatic enzymes may lead to adverse effects on food digestion and waste production, causing malabsorption, abdominal pain, greasy stools, and the formation of stones in the pancreas. Even if the disease is controlled, the damage is often irreversible. If the disease progresses, it could lead to death.
2. Do elevated lipase levels always mean I have a pancreatic condition?
In some cases, an elevated lipase level may be due to a condition other than pancreatitis. In pancreatitis, the lipase level rises quickly and drops in 7 to 14 days. In other conditions, the rise is usually not as great and the level may be maintained for a longer period. Moderately increased lipase values can occur in other conditions, such as kidney disease, and may also be due to decreased clearance from the blood, salivary gland inflammation, gallbladder inflammation, celiac disease, a bowel obstruction, or peptic ulcer disease. The lipase test is not, however, usually used to monitor these conditions. Your health practitioner will determine whether you have a pancreatic disorder and will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, medical history, and test results.
3. Why might lipase and amylase tests be ordered together?
Blood amylase tests are sensitive for pancreatic disorders but are not specific for the disorders. That means an elevated amylase level may indicate a problem, but a disorder unrelated to the pancreas may be the cause. Lipase tests are usually more specific than amylase for diseases of the pancreas, particularly for acute pancreatitis and for acute alcoholic pancreatitis. Evaluating the results of the two tests together helps to diagnose or rule out pancreatitis and other conditions.
This article was last reviewed on July 11, 2014. | This article was last modified on February 24, 2015.
The review date indicates when the article was last reviewed from beginning to end to ensure that it reflects the most current science. A review may not require any modifications to the article, so the two dates may not always agree.
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