Liver function blood test panel

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What is a Liver function test panel?

Liver function tests are blood tests used to diagnose and monitor liver problems. The tests measure the levels of some enzymes and proteins in your blood.

Liver function can be measured by assessing how the liver is performing its normal function of clearing bilirubin and producing proteins like albumin. Other liver function tests measure enzymes released by the liver cells in case of disease or damage.

Why would I get a Liver function test panel done?

When there is liver damage, liver cells release certain enzymes into the blood, and the levels of proteins produced by the liver begin to drop. Measuring the levels of these proteins and enzymes builds up a picture of how well the liver is functioning.

  • Liver function tests can be used to:
  • Screen for infections, such as hepatitis.
  • Monitor the progression of liver diseases, such as liver cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis.
  • Measure the severity of a liver disease.
  • Monitor side effects of medications.

Common liver function tests include measuring AST, ALT, ALP, albumin total protein, bilirubin, gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), L-lactate dehydrogenase (LD), and prothrombin time (PT). All of these measurements can increase or decrease during liver disease.

What happens during the test?

Your healthcare provider may ask you not to eat, drink, or take certain medications to avoid affecting the test results. 

During the test, a blood sample is drawn through a small needle inserted into a vein in the bend of your arm. The needle is attached to a small tube, to collect your blood. You may feel a quick pain as the needle is inserted into your arm and experience some discomfort at the site after the needle is removed.

What to expect after a liver function test is done?

You can return to your daily activities immediately after the test. Your blood sample will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. If the lab analysis is done on-site, you could have your test results within hours. If your doctor sends your blood to an off-site laboratory, you may receive the results within several days.

Conclusion

Your GP will use these results to help diagnose your condition or determine the treatment you might need. If results are abnormal, you may be referred to a hepatologist or a gastroenterologist. Both can help diagnose and treat liver diseases.

If you already have liver disease, liver function tests can monitor the progression of the disease and determine if you are responding to treatment.

Citations

Mayo Clinic: Liver function tests

Liver Function Tests: Liver Function Tests






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