Liver function tests, also known as liver panels, are blood tests that measure different enzymes, proteins, and other substances produced by the liver. These tests provide important information about the overall health of the liver and how well it is functioning
The different components of liver function tests assess various aspects of liver health and can help in the diagnosis and monitoring of liver diseases and conditions.
The components of liver function tests include:
- Albumin: A protein made in the liver. Low levels of albumin can indicate liver damage or disease
- Total protein: This test measures the total amount of protein in the blood. Abnormal levels can be a sign of liver disease
- ALP (alkaline phosphatase),
- ALT (alanine transaminase),
- AST (aspartate aminotransferase), and
- gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)
- Bilirubin: A waste product made by the liver. High levels of bilirubin can be a sign of liver disease or a problem with the bile ducts
- Lactate dehydrogenase (LD): An enzyme found in most of the body’s cells. Elevated levels of LD can indicate liver damage or disease.
- Prothrombin time (PT) and international normalized ratio (INR): These tests measure the blood’s ability to clot and can indicate impairment of the synthetic function of the liver.
Liver function tests are most often used to:
- Screen for liver infections, such as hepatitis
- Monitor a disease, such as viral or alcoholic hepatitis, and determine how well a treatment is working
- Look for signs of serious disease, particularly scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis
- Monitor possible side effects of medicines such as anti-retroviral therapy (ART)
Liver function tests are one of the simplest ways to check on the health of the liver, and they can provide a lot of information from a small sample of blood.
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