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Liver Function Tests: About Your Child's Tests

What are they?

Liver function tests check to see how well your child's liver is working.

The tests may include:

  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). This test measures the amount of the enzyme ALP in your child's blood.
  • Total serum protein. It measures the amounts of two major groups of proteins in your child's blood (albumin and globulin). It also measures the total amount of protein.
  • Bilirubin. It measures the amount of bilirubin in your child's blood.
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT). These tests measure the amount of the enzymes AST and ALT in the blood. (Aminotransferase is also known as a transaminase.)

Why are these tests done?

Some liver function tests measure the amount of certain enzymes in the blood. This can help the doctor find out if your child's liver is damaged or inflamed. Other tests measure how well your child's liver can make important proteins or clear waste products from the body.

The doctor will use the test results to help look for certain conditions. These may include hepatitis or gallbladder problems. They may also include liver or bile duct problems that your child was born with.

Test results that are not normal don't always mean that there's a problem with the liver. The doctor can see if there is a problem based on the test results.

These tests also may be done to see how well a treatment for liver disease is working.

How can you prepare for the test?

In general, you don't need to prepare before your child has these tests. Your child's doctor may give you some specific instructions.

What happens during the test?

A health professional takes a sample of your child's blood.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.

Where can you learn more?

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