Laboratory diagnostic tests in acute pancreatitis

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2002 Apr;34(4):459-62. doi: 10.1097/00004836-200204000-00018.


The diagnosis of acute pancreatitis depends on a combination of clinical assessment and laboratory testing. Although the serum amylase is the cornerstone laboratory test used in establishing the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis, there are limitations in the sensitivity and specificity that may be important for the clinician to recognize. The serum lipase level may be especially useful in patients with alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis. A new urinary test strip that uses trypsinogen-2 may have a role in establishing the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis. In addition, several new laboratory tests and new interpretations of old laboratory tests may assist in establishing the etiology and severity of acute pancreatitis. This review summarizes important aspects of standard laboratory tests and novel laboratory approaches in establishing the diagnosis, etiology, and severity of acute pancreatitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Amylases / blood*
  • Cholelithiasis / blood
  • Cholelithiasis / complications
  • Humans
  • Lipase / blood*
  • Pancreatitis / blood
  • Pancreatitis / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatitis / etiology
  • Pancreatitis, Alcoholic / blood
  • Pancreatitis, Alcoholic / diagnosis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Trypsin*
  • Trypsinogen / blood
  • Trypsinogen / urine


  • PRSS2 protein, human
  • Trypsinogen
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Lipase
  • Amylases
  • Trypsin