What is the liver function test?
Liver function test is also widely known as liver chemistries, which assists to determine the health of your kidney by evaluating the measurements of protein, bilirubin, and several liver enzymes in your blood. The measurements were also used to monitor and screen existing liver disease and workfulness of liver disease treatment as well. Some liver diseases which can be diagnosed through liver function test are:
- Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis can be described as the chronic stage of a liver disease. Where the healthy liver tissues are damaged, this can cause severe scarring and liver failure. Mostly, cirrhosis is caused by excessive alcohol consumption and hepatitis. Well, treatment of cirrhosis can only prevent further liver damage by the scarring.
- Primary biliary cirrhosis: This is a rare disorder. In which, a not specified reason damages the bile duct of your liver, and damages the liver.
- Hepatitis: Hepatitis is the most common liver disease, which is basically an inflammation or swelling of the liver. This is a serious condition, which may interfere with your liver’s ability to function properly.
- Liver cancer: one of the most common types of cancer is liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma. Liver cancer may appear after you have had cirrhosis.
- liver failure: Liver failure is also considered as hepatic failure. With liver failure, your liver loses the ability to function normally as it should.
- Gallstones: Gallbladder is a small organ under your liver. Hepatitis, or cholangitis may occur if a gallstone gets stuck in the bile duct of your gallbladder.
What are the purposes of liver function tests?
Liver function tests is used for certain reasons including:
- They are used to diagnosing certain liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, liver diseases, hepatitis, and others.
- Helps to monitor existing liver disorder’s treatment.
- Helps to screen how damaged your liver is by a liver disease.
- Helps to detect certain medications' side effects.
When do you need a liver function test?
You will need a liver function test, if you are having symptoms of liver disease such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Abdominal ache
- Dark urine and light stool
You also need liver tests, if you fall under these risk factors such as:
- If you have had family history of liver disease
- If you have been exposed to hepatitis virus
- If you're taking medicines which may cause liver disease
- If you consume too much alcohol
- If you are overweight or obese
- If you have gallstone
- If you have anemia
Liver function tests include which tests?
Liver function tests include several blood tests to measure several liver enzymes, proteins, and substances. The tests are:
- Total protein test: The presence of the total amount of protein in your blood will be measured through a total protein test.
- Albumin test: The albumin protein is produced by your liver, which has numerous essential bodily functions. Mainly, this test is used to analyze the production of albumin by your liver. Decreased levels of albumin could be a sign of liver disease.
- Alanine transaminase test (ALT) test: ALT is an enzyme produced by your liver, which helps in breaking down the protein. Liver damage will increase your ALT level.
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) test: The ALP enzyme can only be found in your liver, bones, and bile duct areas. An increased level of these enzymes could be a sign of liver damage, or a blocked bile duct.
- Aspartate aminotransferase test (AST): This particular enzyme can be found in many body parts including brain, heart, pancreas, and liver. High AST level may occur due to liver damage.
- Bilirubin test: Soon after red blood cells break down, a human body starts to produce bilirubin. A critical physical complexion named jaundice may take place in case the bilirubin levels start to increase abnormally in the blood.
- Gamma-Glutamyltransferase test: This is also a specific type of enzyme. Increasing GGT level can be the reason for bile duct damage or liver damage.
- L-lactate dehydrogenase test: In case a person has hidden liver damages, the specific type of enzyme will start to increase. However, there are so many other conditions that can be the reason for its increment in the blood.
- Prothrombin time test: If the blood clotting process takes a time that is longer than usual, then it can be a symptom of liver damage. This test is performed to measure how much time it takes for blood clotting. However, this test is generally not recommended before a patient goes through other necessary liver tests.
How much does the liver function test cost?
Typically, the liver function test cost is quite minor. Liver function test price also may vary depending on which laboratory you would prefer.
How is the liver function test performed?
A healthcare professional will collect a sample of blood from a vein in your arm. Then the sample will be analyzed in the laboratory. The laboratory scientists will then examine the blood sample with an analyzer device.
What preparation do you need to appear in the liver function test?
You will be completely guided by your doctor before going for the blood test. Make sure to consult with the doctor about what medications you are taking. As some medicines and food can be the cause of abnormal test results. Your doctor may restrain you from eating certain foods, and from taking certain medications.
Make sure to stay hydrated just before the blood test. Wearing a loose t-shirt will help you to stay relaxed at the blood drawing procedure.
What you may expect during the liver function test?
- At first, you will be told by a phlebotomist (healthcare professional) to stay calm, and to sit in a chair.
- Then they will use a cotton ball to clean the inside area of your arm. At this point, you may feel the sensation of pinching in that area.
- After cleansing, they will insert a thin needle into a vein of your arm, and will collect a small amount of blood.
- Then the sample of the blood will be transferred into a small test tube.
- Then they put a cotton ball into that particular area to stop the bleeding.
- The entire process would just take 5 to 10 minutes.
Is there any risk of going for a liver test?
There is no potential risk of going for the liver blood test. Although, we know that blood tests are quite essential to diagnose a health condition. However, you will feel pain when the needle is being injected, and you also may feel minute pain afterwards. All the pain and discomfort will ease up itself after 2 to 3 days.
What you may expect after the blood drawing process?
After collecting the blood sample, the specimen will be sent to the laboratory by the phlebotomist for analysis. Generally, the result will be delivered within 48 hours. However, the delivery of the test result depends on the laboratory you are choosing.
Result interpretation of liver function test
- Albumin test: A decreased albumin level indicates that your liver is not functioning well. Low level of albumin can be due to several kidney diseases.
- ALT test: A higher than normal ALT level may indicate liver damage.
- ALP test: An elevated ALP level indicates swelling of liver, bone disorder, and blocked bile duct.
- AST test: An elevated AST level is a sign that your liver muscle is damaged. High AST level and low ALT level is a sign of heart and muscle disease. An elevated ALP, ALT, and bilirubin level indicates damage in your liver.
- Bilirubin test: An elevated bilirubin level indicates that your liver is not functioning properly.
Each of the test results include a reference range, and the reference range may differ from laboratory to laboratory. However, make sure to consult with your doctor about your test result.