Creatine phosphokinase test
Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) is an
How the Test is Performed
A blood sample is needed. This may be taken from a vein. The procedure is called a
This test may be repeated over 2 or 3 days if you are a patient in the hospital.
How to Prepare for the Test
No special preparation is needed most of the time.
Tell your health care provider about any medicines you are taking.
Drugs that can increase CPK measurements include the following:
- Amphotericin B
- Certain anesthetics
- Fibrate drugs
- Steroids, such as dexamethasone
This list is not all-inclusive.
How the Test will Feel
You may feel slight pain when the needle is inserted to draw blood. Some people feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the Test is Performed
When the total CPK level is very high, it most often means there has been injury or stress to muscle tissue, the heart, or the brain.
Muscle tissue injury is most likely. When a muscle is damaged, CPK leaks into the bloodstream. Finding which specific form of CPK is high helps determine which tissue has been damaged.
This test may be used to:
- Evaluate cause of
- Determine if or how badly a muscle is damaged
dermatomyositis, polymyositis, and other muscle diseases
- Tell the difference between
malignant hyperthermiaand postoperative infection
The pattern and timing of a rise or fall in CPK levels can be significant in making a diagnosis. This is particularly true if a heart attack is suspected.
In most cases other tests are used instead of or with this test to diagnose a heart attack.
Total CPK normal values:
- 10 to 120 micrograms per liter (mcg/L)
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
High CPK levels may be seen in people who have:
- Brain injury or stroke
- Delirium tremens
- Dermatomyositis or polymyositis
- Heart attack
- Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
- Lung tissue death (pulmonary infarction)
- Muscular dystrophies
Other conditions that may give positive test results include:
Pericarditis following a heart attack
Risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Other tests should be done to find the exact location of muscle damage.
Factors that may affect test results include
Borg K, Ensrud E. Myopathies. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 136.
Hamel J, Statland JM. Muscle disease. In: Wing EJ, Schiffman FJ, eds. Cecil Essentials of Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 124.
Mccullough PA. Interface between renal disease and cardiovascular illness. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Bhatt DL, Solomon SD, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 101.
Pincus MR, Carty RP. Clinical enzymology. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 21.
Review Date: 01/01/2023
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