Liver Function Tests: An introductory guide to monitoring your liver’s health

What can liver function tests do?

Liver function tests are a group of tests used to assess the overall health of the liver. The liver is a vital organ which helps to produce protein and clear blood waste products such as bilirubin. Liver function tests work by measuring protein and enzymes that may indicate liver damage or disease such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

However, abnormal liver function test results may not always indicate liver disease. Your doctor will help to interpret and explain the results contextually.

When are liver function tests done?

Liver function tests can be ordered for a variety of reasons including:

  • Screening for liver infections such as Hepatitis
  • Monitoring the progression of a liver related disease, such as Hepatitis and also determine how well your body is responding to treatment
  • Measuring the severity of a disease, such as liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
  • Monitoring possible side effects of medications. For instance, your doctor may order regular liver function tests after starting you on cholesterol lowering medication such as statins.

What are some components of a liver function test?

Liver function tests check the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in your blood. Liver problems are indicated when levels may be lower or higher.

  • Alanine transaminase (ALT). ALT is an enzyme that helps convert proteins into energy for the liver cells. ALT is released into the bloodstream and levels increase when the liver is damaged.
  • Aspartate transaminase (AST). AST is an enzyme that helps metabolize amino acids. AST is normally present in blood at low levels. An increase in AST levels may indicate liver damage, disease or muscle damage.
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). ALP is an enzyme found in the liver and bone and is important for breaking down proteins. Higher-than-normal levels of ALP may indicate liver damage or disease, such as a blocked bile duct, or certain bone diseases.
  • Albumin and total protein. Your body needs albumin, amongst other proteins, to fight infections and to perform other functions. Lower-than-normal levels of albumin and total protein may indicate liver damage or disease.
  • Bilirubin. During the normal breakdown of red blood cells, bilirubin is produced. It passes through the liver and is excreted in stool. Elevated levels of bilirubin may indicate liver damage or disease or certain types of anemia.
  • Gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT). GGT is an enzyme in the blood. Higher-than-normal levels may indicate liver or bile duct damage.
  • L-lactate dehydrogenase (LD). LD is an enzyme found in the liver. Elevated levels may indicate liver damage but can be elevated in many other disorders.
  • Prothrombin time (PT). PT is the time it takes your blood to clot. Increased PT may indicate liver damage. However, this can also be elevated if you’re taking certain blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin.

Other Liver Related Tests and Vaccinations

You may also be keen on getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A or Hepatitis B.

Advantage Medical also provides health screening packages which include liver function tests, as well as Hepatitis A and B screening. Our health screening packages start from $60.

Depending on your personal medical history or blood test results, your doctor may also discuss with the option of an ultrasound liver scan.

How can I book a Liver Function Test Appointment?

Please contact us through Phone or WhatsApp at 87840093. Our friendly staff will help to arrange an appointment for you.

Above information adapted from Mayoclinic.