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Amylase Test

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KEY POINTS

  • The amylase test measures the amount of an enzyme called amylase in your child’s blood. Usually the test is done to check for problems with your child’s pancreas.
  • A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. In younger children, this test can be done with a finger prick or heel stick in newborns. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.
  • Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about what the test results mean and ask any questions you have.

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What is an amylase test?

The amylase test is a blood test. It measures the amount of an enzyme called amylase in your child’s blood. Enzymes are chemicals that help the cells of your child’s body work.

Amylase is made by the pancreas (an organ in the upper belly behind the stomach) and by the glands in your child’s mouth that make saliva. Amylase helps you digest starchy carbohydrates, such as bread, corn, and potatoes.

Why is it done?

Usually the test is done to check for problems with your child’s pancreas. For example, it may be done to check for pancreatitis, which is swelling and irritation of the pancreas. The pancreas makes digestive enzymes and the hormones insulin and glucagon. The digestive enzymes flow into the small intestine to help your child’s body break down food. Insulin and glucagon go into the blood to control the level of glucose (sugar) in your child’s blood.

This test may also be done if the glands in your child’s mouth are swollen or tender due to infection or inflammation.

How do I prepare my child for this test?

Your child may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your child’s healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that your child is taking. Ask your child’s provider before stopping any of your child’s regular medicines.

Talk to your child’s provider if you have any questions about the test.

How is the test done?

Having this test will take just a few minutes. A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. In younger children, this test can be done with a finger prick or heel stick in newborns. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your child’s test.

What does the test result mean?

A high level of amylase may be caused by:

  • Pancreatitis
  • An injury to the abdomen that affects the pancreas
  • Gallstones
  • An ulcer that has made a hole in the stomach and is irritating the pancreas
  • Infection or swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the glands in your child’s mouth, for example, mumps
  • A medicine your child has taken

A low level of amylase may be caused by:

  • Pancreas disease
  • Kidney disease

What if my child’s test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about your child’s result and ask questions such as:

  • If your child needs more tests
  • What kind of treatment your child might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes your child might need to make
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-10-21
Last reviewed: 2019-10-21
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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