Liver Blood Tests - Why Were You Tested?

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What are common liver blood tests?

Liver blood tests are some of the most commonly performed blood tests. These tests can be used to assess liver functions or liver injury. An initial step in detecting liver damage is a simple blood test to determine the level of certain liver enzymes (proteins) in the blood. Under normal circumstances, these enzymes mostly reside within the cells of the liver. But when the liver is injured for any reason, these enzymes are spilled into the blood stream. Enzymes are proteins that are present throughout the body, each with a unique function. Enzymes help to speed up (catalyze) routine and vital chemical reactions in the body.

Among the most sensitive and widely used liver enzymes are the aminotransferases. They include aspartate aminotransferase (AST or SGOT) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT or SGPT). These enzymes are normally predominantly contained within liver cells and to a lesser degree in the muscle cells. If the liver is injured or damaged, the liver cells spill these enzymes into the blood, raising the AST and ALT enzyme blood levels and signaling liver disease.

Other blood tests pertaining to the liver are measurements of some of the other enzymes found the liver. In addition to AST and ALT, alkaline phosphatase, 5' nucleotidase, and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) are a few of the other enzymes located in the liver. The focus of this article is mainly on the most common liver enzymes, AST and ALT.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: AnnieM, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 23

My AST and ALT recently came back at 285 and 365 respectively, along with a low platelet count and other mildly high levels of glucose and hemoglobin. The doctor feels it may be due to taking Tricor to lower triglycerides and Celebrex for osteonecrosis of the knee. On top of that, I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine a night. So, he has made me stop the medications and wine to see if those are the problem. Five months ago, before I started the medications the AST and ALT were normal. He also ordered a liver CT scan. I did have a hepatitis B immunization years ago. I am worried!

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Comment from: lovemom, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 13

I recently went to the doctor with concerns of having some edema in my lower extremities. She went ahead and ordered blood work to check my liver (1 of many tests). All tests came back good, minus my liver test, my enzymes were high. I now, am going to get an ultrasound of my liver, and I am a little freaked out over this. I do not drink, I take very little OTC drugs, I am just sick over this.

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