Serum activity of amylase and lipase is measured as an (imperfect) aid to the clinical diagnosis of pancreatic injury. The activity assays have been largely replaced by measurement of immunoreactivity for pancreatic lipase.

Idiopathic inflammatory disease (acute-to-chronic pancreatitis) is the most common disease entity (mainly dogs, occasionally cats, rarely, horses). Less commonly, pancreatic tumors (adenocarcinoma) or trauma (HBC) can be the cause of clinical signs and elevated enzyme activity.

With regard to the diagnosis of pancreatitis, results must be interpreted in light of the history and clinical signs in the patient, and correlated with physical, radiographic, hematologic, and other clinical chemistry findings:

  • vomiting, diarrhea, history of recent fatty meal, table scraps, garbage ingestion
  • painful abdomen, dehydration, sometimes icterus
  • hazy cranial abdomen on plain radiographic films
  • neutrophilic leukocytosis
  • azotemia (often), lipemia (sometimes), hypocalcemia (occasionally), cholestasis
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