Liver Blood Tests

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What blood tests are done to detect liver function? (Continued)

  • Platelet count: Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) has many causes, one of which can be advanced liver disease. Normal platelet counts are about 150,000 to 400,000 per (µL).
  • Glucose: Glucose level is maintained in the body by a variety of mechanisms. The liver can release glucose in the blood for nourishment of other cells in case of starvation with insufficient oral intake of glucose. This process, called gluconeogenesis, is another major function of the liver. In advanced liver disease, this function of the liver can be compromised leading to unusually low glucose levels in the absence of adequate oral intake. Conversely, a large number of people with liver cirrhosis become glucose intolerant and develop diabetes.
  • GGT (Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase): This enzyme is thought to indicate possible liver damage; the higher the abnormal level, the more likely there is liver damage. Normal levels of GGT are about 9 to 48 U/L.
  • ALP (alkaline phosphatase): The liver synthesizes the highest amounts of this enzyme so high levels in the blood may suggest liver injury among other causes. Normal levels of ALP are about 45 to 115 U/L.
  • LD or LDH (Lactate dehydrogenase): This enzyme may be elevated in many types of diseases, including liver disease. Normal levels are about 122 to 222U/L.

Note that many hospitals and doctor's offices list a liver function panel as part of a lab workup. These panels vary and may consist of AST, ALT and some or all of the tests listed above. In addition, the normal panel values may vary somewhat, especially between adult men, women and children so viewing the "normal" ranges of test values is always recommended, and a thorough discussion with the physician is necessary. In addition, some clinicians recommend other tests such as serum ammonia and serum lactate levels in their panels.

There are other tests such as serum ammonia and serum lactate levels in their panels. There are home liver tests for blood enzyme levels and liver function however, individuals who use these tests should first discuss their use and results with their health-care professional. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/20/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Brailita, D. M. "Amebic Hepatic Abscesses Workup." Medscape. Udpated Apr 15, 2015.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/183920-workup>

Sears, D. MD. "Fatty Liver." Medscape. Updated Nov 30, 2015.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/175472-overview>

Sood, G. "Acute Liver failure workup." Medscape. Updated Feb 04, 2016.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/177354-workup>

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