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What blood tests are done to detect liver function?
The blood tests that truly reflect the liver function are the following:
Coagulation panel (prothrombin time or PT, and international
normalized ratio or INR): These tests measure blood's ability for normal
clotting and prevention of bleeding and
bruising. This is the function of
certain proteins called clotting factors that normally are produced in the liver.
Albumin level (hypoalbuminemia): Albumin is a very common protein
found in the blood with a variety of functions. It also is produced only in
the liver, and if its levels are lower than normal it can be suggestive of
chronic liver disease or liver cirrhosis. Of note, Many conditions other
than liver disease also may cause low albumin
Bilirubin: This molecule is a byproduct of the routine destruction of red blood
cells occurring in the liver. It is normally released as bile in the feces. Elevation of
the bilirubin can suggest liver dysfunction. However, other conditions with
increased destruction of red blood cells also can cause elevated bilirubin
levels despite normal liver function.
Platelet count: Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) has many causes,
one of which can be advanced liver disease.
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.
Liver function panel test generally encompasses AST, ALT numbers plus bilirubin, and albumin. In addition, coagulation panel and complete blood count (CBC) with platelet count are usually necessary for initial evaluation of liver problems.