The liver carries out various functions such as synthetic, excretion and detoxification. Liver function tests (LFTs) is used to measure the concentrations of various different types of proteins and enzymes in the blood, which are either produced by the liver cells or released when liver cells are damaged. Liver function tests are very common investigations carried out in people with a suspected liver disease. The test results are indicative of the type of liver disease and the treatment required. Liver function tests can also help to know the extent of a liver is damaged and help monitor your response to drugs and other treatments.
Liver Diseases and Symptoms
There are many different types of diseases can occur in the liver. The most common liver diseases are infections such as hepatitis, cirrhosis (scarring), cancers, and damage by medications or toxins.
Symptoms of liver disease can include
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
- Weight Loss
- Symptoms of nephritic syndrome (swelling around the eyes, belly, and legs)
- Discolored bodily discharge (dark urine or light stools)
Alcohol can be toxic to the liver (hepatotoxic), especially in high doses, and long-term alcohol abuse is a common cause of liver disease.
What is a Liver Function Test?
Liver Function Test is a group of tests performed to check Disorders and abnormalities related to Liver. The most common Liver Function Test is the aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine transaminase (ALT), bilirubin, and albumin tests. The AST and ALT tests are used to measure the level of enzymes, which gets released if there is any Liver Disease. Liver Function tests are some of the most commonly used blood tests. These tests help to assess liver Diseases or liver injury. A Preliminary step in detecting liver disorder is by doing a simple blood test to measure the level of certain liver enzymes (proteins) in the blood.
Why do I need a liver function test?
Liver tests can help determine if your liver is working correctly. The liver performs a number of vital bodily functions, such as:
- Removing contaminants from your blood
- Converting nutrients from the foods you eat
- Storing minerals and vitamins
- Regulating blood clotting
- Producing proteins, enzymes, and bile
- Making factors that fight infection
- Removing bacteria from your blood
- Processing substances that could harm your body
- Maintaining hormone balances
When to go for Liver Function Test?
Your doctor may order a liver function test if you’re more likely to have liver damage or disease. For example, if you’re:
- A heavy drinker or alcoholic
- From a family with a history of liver disease
- Very overweight, especially if you also have diabetes or high blood pressure
- Periodically to evaluate liver function to assess a Liver injury
- To Screen for liver infections, such as hepatitis
- Monitor the progression of a disease, such as viral or alcoholic hepatitis, and determine how well a treatment is working
- Measure the severity of a disease, particularly scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
- Taking medicine that can harm your liver
Tests performed under Liver Function Test
- ALBUMIN SERUM TEST
- BILIRUBIN (DIRECT)
- ALKALINE PHOSPHATE TEST
- BILIRUBIN (TOTAL)
- ALBUMIN GLOBULIN RATIO
- BILIRUBIN (INDIRECT)
- GAMMA GLUTAMYL TRANSPEPTIDASE (GGT)
Prerequisite for Liver Function Test?
- Fasting overnight, only water allowed.
- Inform the healthcare practitioner about your medical history
- Inform the healthcare practitioner about all medications you are taking.
Other Liver Tests
Your Doctor may ask you to take Liver Biopsy or Ultrasound Scan of your liver to confirm the causes of Liver injury/disorder. Some other tests performed along with Liver Function test are Serum glucose, Coagulation test, & 5′ Nucleotidase.
Liver Function Test Normal Values
Liver Function Test Results Normal Range
|Test Results||Normal Range|
|Total protein||6.3 – 7.9 Grams per Decilitre|
|ALT||7 – 55 Units per Ltr|
|ALP||45 -115 Units per Ltr|
|Bilirubin||0.1 – 1.2 milligrams per Decilitre|
|Albumin||3.5 – 5.0 Grams per Decilitre|
|LD||122 – 222 Units per Ltr|
|PT||9.5 -13.8 seconds|
|GGT||9 – 48 Units per Ltr|
|AST||8 – 48 Units per Ltr|
Benefits and Risks
The benefits of liver function tests are as mentioned below:
- Detection of liver disease
- Determining the likely type of disease and possible causes
- Determining the severity or stage of disease
- Monitoring the response to treatment
Risks of the actual procedure are minimal. Some patients may experience bleeding or hematomas (large bruises) at the venipuncture site (where blood was taken). These are more common in patients with a severe liver disease, as the liver is unable to produce sufficient clotting factors to stop bleeding. Fainting, dizziness, and lightheadedness may occur while taking the blood samples.
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