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Types of Liver Function Tests


Types of Liver Function Tests

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Types of Liver Function Tests

Your health care provider may recommend liver function tests as a part of a routine checkup or if you may be experiencing symptoms that could suggest some type of issue with your liver. These tests are designed to measure the levels of certain proteins or enzymes that are in the blood. While abnormal results do not always indicate the presence of disease or damage to the liver, results that are too low or too high might be a signal that there is some type of problem.

Why the Test Is Performed

Various liver function tests can be used alone or together to make sure that your liver is working properly. This test may be ordered just to keep an eye on your overall health or in response to symptoms that could indicate that you may have a problem with your liver. Liver problems can result in additional health problems and may even be life-threatening depending on the cause. Testing may also be done to check for an infection of the liver, such as hepatitis, or to keep track of how certain medications are affecting your liver.

How to Prepare for the Tests

You may be required to fast before having a liver panel performed. Because certain medications may affect the results, your physician may ask you to skip these medicines for a certain period of time before having the testing completed. This blood test may be performed at the health care provider’s office or at a lab.

What Tests May Be Done?

There are many different tests that can be done to check for proper liver functions. These tests measure proteins, enzymes, and bilirubin.

Enzyme Tests. High levels of certain enzymes may be an indication of damage to the liver or the bile ducts. These tests include:

  • ALT – Alanine transaminase
  • AST – Aspartate transaminase
  • ALP – Alkaline phosphatase
  • GGT – Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase

Protein Tests. Low levels of certain proteins may indicate liver damage or other diseases. These tests include:

  • Total protein
  • Globulin
  • Albumin

A prothrombin test can indicate how long it takes for your blood to clot. High levels of the protein prothrombin may be a sign of trouble with your liver function.

Bilirubin. Bilirubin is produced from a breakdown of red blood cells. Excess amounts secreted by the liver may indicate liver damage. Excess bilirubin can lead to the look of jaundice in the skin or eyes and dark urine.