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July 14, 1951


JAMA. 1951;146(11):1032-1033. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670110052019

Elevated levels of serum amylase and lipase are generally regarded as reliable evidence of pancreatic disease. Recent work, however, has demonstrated that the serum concentration of these enzymes may rise following the administration of opiates in the absence of pancreatic disease. In the course of studies on pancreatic function, Burke and co-workers1 observed an increase in serum amylase in three patients without evidence of pancreatic disease following the subcutaneous injection of 16 mg. of morphine sulfate. At about the same time Gross and associates2 observed elevated serum amylase and lipase levels following opiate administration in a patient whose pancreas appeared normal at the time of exploratory laparotomy. Suspecting that the opiate was responsible, they gave the patient 0.13 gm. of codeine sulfate hypodermically on two subsequent occasions and each time observed a pronounced rise after the injection. The amylase levels remained elevated for 24 hours. Extending their studies,