Liver Function Tests: About These Tests

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What is it?

Liver function tests check how well your liver is working. Some tests measure the amount of certain enzymes in your blood to check whether the liver is damaged or inflamed.

Other tests measure how well the liver can make important proteins or clear waste products from the body.

Your doctor will use the test results to help look for certain conditions, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or gallbladder problems. Test results that are not normal do not always mean there is a problem with your liver. Your doctor can determine if there is a problem based on your results.

The tests may include:

  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). This test measures the amount of the enzyme ALP in your blood.
  • Total protein. A total serum protein test measures the amounts of two major groups of proteins in your blood (albumin and globulin) and the total amount of protein.
  • Bilirubin. This test measures the amount of bilirubin in your blood. When bilirubin levels are high, the skin and whites of the eyes may appear yellow (jaundice). This may be caused by liver disease.
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT). These tests measure the amount of the enzymes AST and ALT in your blood. (Aminotransferase is also known as a transaminase. High levels may be called transaminitis.)

Why is this test done?

Liver function tests check how well your liver is working. Some tests help show whether your liver is damaged or inflamed. Your doctor may order liver function tests if you have symptoms of liver disease.

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 do not need to prepare before having these tests. Your doctor may give you some specific instructions to prepare.

What happens during the test?

A health professional takes a sample of your blood.

What happens after the test?

You will probably be able to go home right away.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

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?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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