Liver Blood Tests - Diagnosis

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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 levels.
  • 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.
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Comment from: cmorningstar, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 05

I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, but all medications approved for my condition have failed due to adverse side effects including, my liver enzymes raise to dangerous levels, and are now so high my Primary Doctor, is looking for an specialist to find out why? All I understand about it all is that my liver enzymes are now 3 times higher then they should be and nothing my Doctor is trying will bring them down in fact they are still slow to be getting higher with each blood test that has been done monthly now since November. They were rising before that back as far as August, but have gotten extremely higher even though I have been taken off all medications that could possibly affect my liver in any way and because of this I am also suffering most of the time. I also have arthritis in my hips, knees, and bursitis in my shoulders due to accidents and over work from repetitious jobs for many years. I have also had head and neck and back trauma due to roll over auto accidents, and other injuries, in the line of jobs, and being a very active horse trainer when I was much younger, but it is my concern with my liver now, and the fact that I can do nothing for my pain because of it. Does anyone have any answers for me? I am still awaiting a decision on a Disability Claim, and therefore I am on Medicaid, for insurance, therefore it is hard for me to find a specialist that will take my case. I no longer drive due to a history of seizer's too. Does anyone out there have any advice or way I can be helped?

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Comment from: Cookie, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 10

After I had my son, I was having a lot of dizziness so my doctor took a blood test. I had high liver enzymes. I was tested two times after in a period of 6 months and my liver enzymes went back to normal. I just had my daughter and I was on all sorts of pain medications including 5 straight days of regular morphine injections. My liver enzymes are now slightly elevated again. I will be tested in 3 months to see if they have gone down. Until then, it is no Tylenol for me.

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