Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP): About This Test

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Picture showing location of liver

What is it?

An alkaline phosphatase (ALP) test measures the amount of the enzyme ALP in your blood. ALP is made mostly in the liver and in bone, with some made in the intestines and kidneys.

Why is this test done?

This test is done to:

  • Check for liver damage.
  • Help identify liver disease. Liver disease may cause symptoms such as pain in the upper belly, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes jaundice.
  • Check bone problems (sometimes found on X-rays), such as rickets, osteomalacia, bone tumours, Paget's disease, or too much of the hormone that controls bone growth (parathyroid hormone).
  • Check to see how well treatment for Paget's disease or a vitamin D deficiency is working.

How can you prepare for the test?

  • In general, you don't need to prepare before having this test. Your doctor may give you some specific instructions.

What happens during the test?

  • A health professional takes a sample of your blood.

What else should you know about the test?

  • Your results will include an explanation of what a "normal" result is. This is called a "reference range." It is just a guide. Your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed may still be normal for you.
  • If the ALP level is high, other tests may be done to see if a liver or bone problem is present.
  • If your doctor thinks you might have liver disease, you may need more blood tests, an ultrasound, or a CT scan.

How long does the test take?

  • The test will take a few minutes.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: October 9, 2017