Liver is the largest gland of the body that is responsible for the secretion of the digestive juices that aid in metabolism of food. It is located in the upper right portion of the abdomen. Besides stimulating digestions, liver also performs several vital functions in the body without which, it would be impossible to survive. For example, liver is responsible for storing fats, minerals, fat-soluble vitamins and glucose in the form of glycogen. It also helps in the processing and distribution of proteins and secretion of vital clotting factors. Most importantly, liver is the primary organ that helps in the metabolism of drugs and exogenous hormones. These functions are helpful in the detoxification of the body from toxins and poisons.
Liver function test is one of the most common analytical methods used to identify the function of your liver; healthcare providers do this by evaluating the serum level of different enzymes and associated protein levels. Liver function test is helpful in diagnosing any abnormalities or disorders of the liver or the body in general.
Sometimes known as SGPT, when the levels of ALT are raised this could be an indication of liver inflammation of infection. Mainly, ALT functions in processing proteins and distributing them throughout the body.
Also be known as SGOT, ALT is found in many other body tissues besides liver and it plays a main role in protein manufacturing. When liver damage occurs due to inflammation or infections, serum ALT levels increase because they leak from ruptured and damaged cells.
Alkaline phosphate is an important enzyme, which is most frequently used for the assessment of biliary function. High levels are suggestive of biliary duct obstruction and may impending temporary or permanent liver damage. It is found in different body tissues and is generally high in younger ones. Raised levels indicate pathology in liver and biliary system.
Bilirubin is the by-product of red blood cell metabolism, which is excreted out of the body via liver in the form of bile. If any pathology affects the production or excretion of bilirubin from the body, it may result in accumulation within the tissues that may lead to illness. Since bilirubin is yellow in color, systemic accumulation leads to yellowish discoloration of sclera and skin (also referred to as jaundice in medical terms).
There are two forms of bilirubin in the body: total bilirubin and direct bilirubin. Total bilirubin indicates total levels of bilirubin in blood, and direct bilirubin levels indicate the amount of bile metabolized by the liver. Detection of relative concentration of total and direct bilirubin helps in the diagnosis of primary issue and site of disorder.
Albumin is the main protein produced and distributed by the liver in the blood. It can be used as an indication of how efficiently your liver is functioning; abnormally high or abnormally low levels of albumin indicate pathology of the liver and the biliary system.
Here is a list of some important parameters with their normal ranges for liver function tests. These ranges can differ as per age, sex and pathological state of a body. Results can also differ with the use of certain drug and foodstuff.
[U= unit, dl= deciliter, L= liters, mg=milligrams, g=grams]
Although a liver function test does not need any special preparations (unlike a sugar test), certain things can be done to helpget accurate results.
Avoid drinking water for at least eight hours before the test. If you have recently taken any medicines, inform your doctor about it. Also avoid foods and beverages that may affect your results. Sometimes drugs and some nutritional constituents can also interfere with the enzyme levels. In addition, if you are in a hurry, or want the process to be rushed, wear short sleeves of shoulders above your arm to aid blood extraction.
Some people may have a doubt that why should they take liver function tests. Here are some reasons that you need to take live function tests:
Here is a video regarding all details about a liver function test: