Amylase is a protein that accelerates biological reactions (enzyme) and is mainly produced by the pancreas. It is released by the pancreas in the digestive tract to help digest plant reserve sugar (starch) found in food.
Amylase is usually present in the blood in small amounts. When cells in the pancreas are damaged or the pancreatic canal is blocked (by gallstones or, rarely, by a tumor), the amount of amylase in the bloodstream and urine increases. Amylase is eliminated from the body in the urine.
The measurement of amylase is very useful for verifying the correct function of the pancreas or for ascertaining (diagnosing) the presence of inflammation (acute pancreatitis) and other organ diseases.
The amylase analysis, although rarely, can also be used in the detection and monitoring of pancreatic cancer, gallbladder and mumps (an infectious disease caused by a virus commonly called mumps).
Determination of amylase in the blood is not part of simple control tests (routine tests) and is usually requested by the doctor when a person exhibits the typical disorders of pancreatic diseases, such as:
- severe abdominal or back pain
- abdominal bloating
- weight loss with no apparent cause
Together with the analysis for measuring the value of amylase in the blood, one can also be prescribed to detect the amount in the urine.The test
Amylase is measured in a blood and urine test.
The measurement of the amount of amylase in the blood is called amylasemia and is done by taking a small amount of blood (sample) from a vein in the arm. For the execution of the exam no specific preparation is necessary, nor fasting.
The analysis of amylase in the urine, called amylasuria, it is performed on a urine sample that can be taken at any time of the day or on the urine collected in 24 hours.
The urine must be collected in a sterile and disposable container which can be purchased at the pharmacy or requested directly from the laboratory where the examination is to be performed.Results
The amounts of amylase can be significantly increased in the presence of diseases affecting the pancreas. In fact, in pancreatitis (severe inflammation of the pancreas) amylase concentrations are usually very high, often 5-10 times normal. Increased amounts of amylase may also indicate pancreatic cancer, gallbladder disease, rupture of the stomach or bowel wall (perforated ulcer), blockage of the intestinal tract, mumps (inflammation of the parotid glands commonly known as "mumps" ") Or a pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants itself in a location other than the uterus (ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy).
An increase in blood amylase with normal or low urinary amylase may indicate decreased kidney function or the presence of macroamylase (a situation in which amylase is bound to other proteins in a complex that cannot pass through the kidney filter, and accumulates in the blood). Elevated amylase concentrations due to macroamylase are not indicators of disease.
Other things to know
In acute pancreatitis, the increase in amylase levels is usually concurrent with that of another enzyme called lipase. Both tests may be required to ascertain acute pancreatitis, but amylase is usually the most frequently prescribed test.
Long-term (chronic) pancreatitis is often linked to alcoholism. It can also be caused by trauma to the pancreas or associated with genetic abnormalities such as cystic fibrosis.
Amylase concentrations may be moderately elevated in chronic pancreatitis or may be decreased when the amylase-producing cells in the pancreas are damaged or destroyed.