When A Liver Function Test Is Ordered
A liver function test is ordered when you are demonstrating signs and symptoms of liver disease such as:
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Changes in the color of urine
- Changes in the color of the stool
- Ascites or collection of fluid in the abdomen
- Abnormal bleeding/bruising
A liver function test is also ordered in people with:
- A family history of liver disease
- Severely alcoholic
- Taking drugs that may cause liver-related damage
What Is Being Tested
Liver function tests are blood tests that can provide information about how the liver is working. They test the levels of a number of proteins and enzymes that are either produced by liver cells or released into the blood when liver cells are damaged.
The liver is a large organ in the upper right of the abdomen and is necessary for many different functions. For example, it processes drugs and alcohol, filters toxic chemicals, stores vitamins and minerals, and makes bile, proteins and enzymes.
LFTs examine proteins, enzymes, and other substances that indicate how well the liver is working. They can show if there is damage to liver cells or a blockage to blood flow through the liver.
What Is The Significance Of Checking These Panels
If any of the substances mentioned above are outside of the normal range, then it could be an indicator of underlying liver disease such as hepatitis.
The results of the liver function tests are also used as a basis for the progress of treatment of liver disease, check how severely damaged the liver such as in the case of liver cirrhosis, and monitor the side effects of some medications.
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When To Get A Liver Function Test
The doctor may recommend a liver function test as part of your routine checkups. These can also be required if you are suffering from an acute illness or to diagnose liver disease. Certain scenarios that warrant a liver function test include:
- You have symptoms of liver disease
- To monitor the complications of medicines that are toxic to the liver
- Follow-up for conditions such as liver cancer, liver inflammation, infectious hepatitis
- Screening for liver infections
- Estimate the severity of liver cirrhosis
Main Functions Of Liver
The liver is located on right side of the upper abdomen. Though, we can not feel as it is inside the rib cage. The liver performs the following essential functions:
- Filter the blood which is coming from the digestive system. It then passes on this filtered blood to rest of the body.
- It produces proteins which help in blood clotting & other functions
- The liver produces bile which carries away the waste and breaks down fat in the intestine.
- Detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs
- Storing Vitamins & Minerals
Abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, jaundice & bleeding could be symptoms of abnormal liver function. Diseases such as hepatitis infection, liver cirrhosis, cancer & damage by toxins etc. are some of the problems related to livers.
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Liver Function Test Normal Range
As a liver function test contains a number of parameters, each parameter has a different normal range. Though the individual tests do have a normal range, their interpretation should be left to the doctor. As there could be a number of reasons for abnormal level, the more important is the correlation between different factors of your LFT test. The following table enlists the normal range for individual parameters in LFT test.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Liver Tests
A series of special blood tests can often determine whether or not the liver is inflamed, injured, or functioning properly. These tests can also distinguish between acute and chronic liver disorders and between hepatitis and cholestasis .
The most commonly performed blood tests include the following:
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If I Receive Abnormal Blood Test Results What Should Happen Next
Abnormal liver blood test results are relatively common and most people with these results have normal liver function. An infection or a reaction to medication might affect your blood test results and sometimes a repeat liver blood test is all thats needed. However, any abnormality does need to be investigated to find out what the cause is.
Scans may be performed to help understand the cause of the abnormality and also to assess how significant any damage is.
These may include imaging scans such as ultrasound, elastography scans such as FibroScan, CT or MRI scans , which help doctors get a better picture of the extent of any damage to the liver. In certain cases a liver biopsy may be considered to specifically diagnose a condition or provide information on the extent of scarring inside the liver.
If you are very unwell, you may be referred or admitted to hospital, although this is unusual only a very small number of people with abnormal liver blood tests require admission.
Why Is It Important To Undergo A Liver Function Test
A liver test can easily determine the working condition of your liver. Our liver performs a number of functions like,
- Removing any contaminants from the blood
- Helps convert nutrients from the food eaten
- Helps in the storing of vitamins and minerals
- Regulates clotting of blood
- Helps in the removal of harmful bacteria from our blood
- Produces bile, proteins and enzymes
- Helps fight infections
- Helps maintain hormone balances
Any problems with the functions of the liver can cause sickness in people and this can at times be life threatening as well.
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What Does The Test Measure
As a panel test, the liver panel involves multiple measurements. When the test is ordered, doctors can modify exactly which measurements to take.
For this reason, there is not a universal standard for what is measured on a liver panel. Nevertheless, some components of the test are more common. In most cases, a liver panel includes the following measurements:
- Aspartate aminotransferase : AST is a type of protein called an enzyme that is found in the liver as well as many muscles and organs.
- Alanine aminotransferase : ALT is an enzyme found primarily in the liver.
- Alkaline phosphatase : ALP is an enzyme found in the liver, bones, and other tissues in the body.
- Bilirubin: Bilirubin is a yellow-colored waste product that is the result of normal breakdown of red blood cells. The liver works to remove bilirubin from the body.
- Albumin: Albumin is a protein made by the liver that prevents fluids from leaking out of the bloodstream.
Additional measurements may be added to a liver panel if the doctor believes they can provide more information to evaluate your situation. These measures may be tested on an initial liver panel, or they may be included in repeat testing after an abnormal result on a previous test.
What Can You Expect During Your Liver Function Test
Before the liver function test, your doctor will ask you to abstain from drinking or eating anything at least 6-8 hours before the test. The procedure is not at all painful. You might feel a slight tinge when the nurse or a phlebotomist draws out blood with a needle. The blood will be collected in a sterile tube for further processing. After blood collection, you are free to go. The liver function test results will be analyzed by your doctor. Most of the time, the individual tests will be used collectively to determine a liver disease. Thus, when several tests will give abnormal results, then a liver problem is suspected.
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Other Liver Blood Tests That Measure Abnormal Levels Of Enzymes In The Blood
There are several other liver enzymes performing important functions, however, many of these are not routinely measures in blood tests.
- Alkaline phosphatase is very commonly reported with the transaminases as part of the metabolic panel blood test. This molecule typically resides in the wall of the intra- and extra-biliary ducts .
- The elevation of this enzyme may indicate and injury or an inflammation to these tubes . Common causes for this are gallbladder obstruction and certain medications.
There also are other liver enzymes such as, lactate dehydrogenase , glutamate dehydrogenase, and gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase , which are less routinely measured clinically.
Production Of These Substances
- Glycogen , which it makes from glucose.
- Glucose, made and released into the blood from glycogen, proteins and fats.
- Many essential proteins and amino acids .
- Many of the clotting factors that help your blood to clot normally.
- Plays a part in red blood cell production.
- Albumin, the main protein in your blood, which bulks out your serum and enables it to carry essential substances around the body.
- Angiotensinogen, which plays a role in blood pressure control.
- Thrombopoietin, which regulates some of the work of your bone marrow.
- Cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoproteins and fats – as part of the management of fat stores in your body.
- Bile, excreted into the intestine for absorbing fats and vitamin K.
- Hormones that help children grow and that build muscle in adults.
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Blood Test To Check Liver Health
and may include the following:What are liver function tests? Liver function tests are blood tests that measure different enzymes, or inflammation, If the liver is Aspartate aminotransferase test, CBC with Differential/Platelet Count TC 6399.Liver blood tests include liver enzyme tests and liver function tests as well as tests for elevated levels of creatinine and alpha-fetoprotein , formally called prothrombin time test.In a typical blood chemistry profile, and there is a certain normal level of these enzymes circulating in the bloodstream.A simple blood test can show how your liver is working, What It Is, Comprehensive Liver Profile Blood Test, proteins, and helps remove toxins.
How Is A Liver Function Test Performed
You may have your blood drawn in a hospital or at a specialized testing facility. To administer the test:
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Abnormal Liver Function Tests
In this series
Liver function tests are a set of blood tests commonly done to check on the health of your liver. Changes in liver function tests give a clue as to whether your liver is under strain, inflamed, infected or diseased, and how badly. The pattern of the liver function tests can give a clue to the cause and can allow early detection of unsuspected problems, and monitoring of known problems.
In this article
Why Do I Need A Bilirubin Blood Test
Your provider may order a bilirubin blood test:
- If you have symptoms such as jaundice, dark urine, or stomach pain. These could be symptoms of hepatitis, cirrhosis, or other liver diseases. They may also be signs of gallbladder disease.
- To find out if there is a blockage in the bile ducts, the tubes that carry bile from your liver.
- To check on an existing liver disease or disorder.
- To diagnose disorders related to problems with breaking down red blood cells. High bilirubin levels in the bloodstream may be a sign of a condition called hemolytic anemia. In this condition, the body destroys red blood cells faster than it makes them.
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When Is It Ordered
A liver panel, or one or more of its components, may be ordered when you have increased risk for liver disease and/or dysfunction. You may be at increased risk if you:
- Take medications that may potentially damage the liver
- Are an alcoholic or heavy drinker
- Have a viral hepatitis or possible exposure to hepatitis viruses
- Have a family history of liver disease
- Are overweight, especially if you have diabetes and/or high blood pressure
A liver panel may be ordered when you have signs and symptoms of liver disease. However, most people who have liver disease do not have any of these symptoms until the disease has been present for many years or is very severe. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Weakness, fatigue
Often, a series of liver panels are ordered over a few days or weeks to help determine the cause of the liver disorder and evaluate its severity.
When liver disease is detected, it may be monitored on a regular basis over time with the liver panel or with one or more of its components. A liver panel may also be ordered regularly to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for the liver disorder.
Liver Function Tests: Medlineplus Medical Test
What are liver function tests? Liver function tests are blood tests that measure different enzymes, and may include the following:Liver function testsLiver function tests are blood tests used to help diagnose and monitor liver disease or damage, and organ tissue.Blood Test: Hepatic Function Panel, or disease, and diseases such as hepatitis, are measurements of enzyme levels, These tests check the overall health of your liver, and other substances made by the liver, You may hear your doctor refer to these tests by their medical name, The different substances are often tested at the same time on a single blood sample, Copper, Low levels of albumin may indicate the liver is not functioning properly, The tests measure the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in your blood.Some of these tests measure how well the liver is performing its normal functions of producing protein and clearing bilirubin, cancer, proteins, also known as liver function tests, infected or diseased, hepatic function panel or liver profile.
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What Conditions Can Cause Very High Ast Or Alt Levels
AST and ALT serum levels in some liver conditions can range anywhere from ten times the upper limits of normal to thousands of units/liter. The highest levels of AST and ALT are found with disorders that cause rapid death of numerous liver cells . Although this degree of liver enzymes elevation is not common, it can occur in such conditions as:
- Acute viral hepatitis A or B
- Profound liver damage inflicted by toxins as from an overdose of acetaminophen or mushroom poisoning
- Prolonged collapse of the circulatory system when the liver is deprived of fresh blood providing oxygen and nutrients
Also, very high AST and ALT levels can be a result of severe muscle diseases.
Are There Any Limitations
Although a liver function test measures a lot of biological panels, it has some limitations. The doctor will interpret the result only after considering the patients overall health condition signs and symptoms and past medical and surgical history.
However, you have to keep in mind that the liver function test alone is not the basis of diagnosing a particular condition. What it does is it gives the doctor clues of the likely type of disease a person has. A liver panel test is done in conjunction with other tests and investigations.
Problems with the liver are something that should not be taken lightly. They can make you sick. As a matter of fact, some of them are life-threatening.
A liver function test or liver panel test can help assess and diagnose your condition and determine if you need a specific treatment. It is also helpful in assessing the effectiveness of treatment in people receiving treatment for liver-related diseases.
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Normally Where Are Ast And Alt
AST is normally found in a variety of tissues including the liver, heart, muscle, kidney, and brain. It is released into the serum when any one of these tissues is damaged. For example, the AST level in serum is elevated in heart attacks or with a muscle injury. It is, therefore, not a highly specific indicator of liver injury as its elevation can occur as a result of other injured tissues.
ALT is, by contrast, normally found largely in the liver. This is not to say that it is exclusively located in the liver, but that is where it is most concentrated. It is released into the bloodstream as the result of liver injury. Thus, it serves as a fairly specific indicator of liver status.
What Does The ‘normal Range’ Mean In Liver Function Tests
The ‘normal range’ is a range of values given by the local laboratory for liver function tests. The range varies slightly between laboratories according to the measurement methods that they use.
The ‘normal’ limits are defined by laboratories as the range of levels inside which 19 of every 20 people with healthy livers will fall. This means that, for any one liver function test, around 1 in 20 people with healthy livers will have a result that is slightly abnormal. There will, in the majority of cases, be nothing wrong with their liver having a liver function test that’s just over the edge usually means nothing, as long as – crucially – there is only one slight abnormality out of the whole range of tests. You should always discuss even a slightly abnormal result with your doctor.
It is important to remember that having normal liver function test results doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk of liver problems. For instance, if you are involved in harmful behaviour, such as drinking excess alcohol, you could have normal liver function test results but still be putting your liver under strain.
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