The doctor will ask questions to patients about their medical history followed by a physical exam along with lab and imaging tests. This blood tests can measure enzymes and are used to diagnose an attack of pancreatitis. These tests are mainly: Serum amylase: Helps to diagnose if there is an Increase of amylase in the blood which usually indicates pancreatitis. Serum lipase: Sudden (acute) pancreatitis almost always raises the level of lipase in the blood.
Other tests can help to diagnose the number of white blood cells which rises during an attack of pancreatitis, sometimes dramatically. Increases in liver enzymes, particularly of alanine aminotransferase and alkaline can be a sign of sudden pancreatitis caused by gallstones which can also be diagnosed. The level of bilirubin in the blood is also tested to see if it’s increased as it does if the common bile duct is blocked.
There is no special preparation required for an amylase or lipase blood test though it’s advisable to wear a loose fitting or short sleeved shirt just to make sure the doctor can easily access a vein in your arm.
If the levels of lipase and amylase are higher than normal it may indicate pancreatic injury or another disease. As per the record, levels of greater than three times the upper limit of normal usually lead to a diagnosis of pancreatitis. Lipase levels alone can’t determine the severity of an acute pancreatitis attack so if the results are abnormal then patients will be recommended tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan, and endoscopy. Elevated amylase levels show that there could be a problem but not necessarily the pancreas may be involved. To be precise, lipase levels are compared with amylase levels which are usually more specific for pancreatic disorders.
If the doctor is unsure whether the patient’s pancreatic tissue is infected, they may use a needle to take some fluid from the inflamed area and then it’s tested for organisms that can cause infection. A health professional will clean the area of skin around a vein in your elbow or on the back of your hand with an antiseptic and an elastic band will be tied around your arm which will help in applying pressure which allows blood to fill the vein. After that, a needle will be inserted into the vein and blood will be removed which is put in a vial or small tube. Lastly, the elastic band is removed and the blood is sent to a laboratory for analysis.