Liver function tests are a group of tests that monitor liver health and diagnose any liver disease or damage. This test measures certain enzymes, proteins, and bilirubin levels in your blood. Main function of liver is to purify blood coming from digestive system before it goes to rest of the bodies. Liver produces bile which helps in digestion of fat and fat-soluble vitamins and chemicals which are required by our body to function normally. Liver acts as a storage for vitamin, minerals and glycogen, metabolizes drugs, and detoxifies substances from our body. Liver function tests usually do not tell the exact type of disease. More specific tests and investigations may be required to make a diagnosis.
Also Known as
Liver panel, Liver Profile, LFTs, Hepatic function panel
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm or heel stick (newborns)
How the Test is Done
Spectrophotometry: In this method, an optical instrument is used for measuring the intensity of light with respect to its wavelength. Electromagnetic energy of the sample enters the device through a hole, and then by holographic grating, is separated into different wavelengths according to its component. Biuret test: Copper ion makes the mauve colored complex in an alkaline solution in the presence of peptides. In this method, the number of peptide bonds are detected. Peptides bond is a chemical bond formed between the two molecules of amino acids. Bromocresol green (BCG) method: BCG is a dye that can combine with albumin in the presence of pH value 4.0~4.2 and what forms BCG- albumin complex, that is yellowish-green in color. The intensity of the color is directly proportional to the concentration of albumin.
What all does the test include?
Commonly used components of the liver function test include: Alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), albumin, globulin, total protein, bilirubin, gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), prothrombin time (PT) and lactate dehydrogenase (LD or LDH). ALT and AST are the enzymes release by the liver when there is a disease or a damage. Albumin test indicate how well liver is producing albumin protein, which is the main serum-binding protein that provides nourishment to the tissues and transport ions, hormones, fatty acids etc. Bilirubin test indicates how well the liver ejects bilirubin. ALP gives an idea about the bile duct system. GGT is an enzyme which helps to transport other molecules in our body. PT measures the time taken by blood to form a clot; prothrombin is a protein produced by liver. Globulin is also a protein produced by liver that helps the immune system to fight against infections. Total protein measures the total amount of protein present in blood. LDH is an enzyme that helps in energy production.
How to Prepare Before the Test?
Overnight fasting (except water) is required. Inform your doctor about all the medications and supplements you are taking prior to the test.
When to get tested
As a part of a routine health checkup to evaluate liver function. If you are at the risk for liver injury. When you have the signs and symptoms of liver disease like jaundice, dark urine color etc.
Liver Function Test- Basic (10 Tests):
1) Is nonalcoholic fatty liver a dangerous condition?
If nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is left untreated, it can develop into much more harmful disease known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Around 20% of people with this condition may develop liver cirrhosis.
2) Does elevation of liver enzymes always mean a liver damage?
Not always, the elevation of liver enzymes indicates liver damage. However, during the process inflammation or disease, the liver cells generate higher than normal amount of certain chemicals that can result in elevation of liver enzymes. For definitive results, always consult your doctor.
3) Can liver repair itself after years of drinking?
If you quit drinking alcohol early, few alcohol-related damage to the liver can be reversed. Healing process begin as you stop drinking and may take few days up to weeks. If the damage is severe enough, the healing process can take up to several months.
4) What is the life expectancy of the patient with advanced liver cirrhosis?
If liver transplant is not an option, the life expectancy is usually 6 months to 2 years, but it also depends upon the condition of the patient and complications associated with cirrhosis.
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