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What are liver function tests? | Texas Speciality Clinic

What are Liver Function Tests?

Liver function tests (also called liver panel) are blood tests that measure different enzymes, proteins, and other substances made by the liver. These tests look at the overall health of your liver. The different substances are often tested at the same time on a single blood sample, and might include the following :-

  • Albumin, a protein produced in the liver.
  • Total protein – This test measures the overall amount of protein in the blood.
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). These are different enzymes produced by the liver.
  • Bilirubin is a waste product that’s produced by the liver.
  • Lactate dehydrogenase (LD), is an enzyme found in most cells within the body. LD is released into the blood when the cells have been damaged by disease or injury.
  • Prothrombin time (PT), is a protein associated with blood clotting.

If levels of one or more of these substances are outside of the normal range, it might be a sign of liver disease.

Other terms: liver panel, liver function panel, liver profile hepatic function panel, LFT

What are they used for?

Liver function tests are most frequently used to :-

  • Help diagnose liver diseases, like hepatitis.
  • Monitor treatment of the liver disease. These tests could show how well the treatment is working.
  • Check how badly a liver has been damaged or scarred by disease, like cirrhosis.
  • Monitor side effects of specific medicines.

Monitor side effects of specific medicines

You might need liver function testing if you have symptoms of liver disease. These include :-

  • Jaundice is a state that causes your skin and eyes to turn yellow
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Light-colored stool
  • Fatigue

You might also need these tests if you have certain risk factors. You might be at higher risk for liver disease if you :-

  • Have a family history of liver disease
  • Have alcohol use disorder, a condition in which you have trouble controlling how much you drink
  • Think you have been exposed to the hepatitis virus
  • Take medicines that might cause liver damage

What happens during a liver function test?

A health care professional will take a blood specimen from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle has been inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You might feel a small sting when the needle goes in or out. This generally takes less than five minutes.

Do I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for 10 – 12 hours prior to the test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is a very small risk of having a blood test. You might have slight pain or bruise at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

If one or more of your liver function test results were not normal, it might mean your liver is damaged or not working properly. Liver damage could be caused by a number of different conditions, including :-

  • Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis C.
  • Alcohol use disorder involves alcoholism.
  • Liver cancer.
  • Diabetes.

If you have questions about your results, speak to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about liver function tests?

If any of your liver function tests were not normal, your provider might need more tests to confirm or rule out a specific diagnosis. These tests might include more blood tests and/or a liver biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure that removes a tiny sample of tissue for testing.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from liver diseases or conditions , our expert providers at Texas Specialty Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.

Call us at (469) 545-9983 to book a telehealth appointment for a home check-up.