liver function tests

Liver function tests can give you information on how well your liver is working, the liver is located on the upper right side of your abdomen.Liver function tests are a group of blood tests, All of these tests can be performed at the same time.And basically consist of:

1.measurements of albumin,

2.various liver enzymes (ALT, AST, GGT and ALP)


4.prothrombin time

5.cholesterol protein.

Albumin is a protein made in the liver. If the liver is badly damaged, it can no longer produce albumin.When albumin levels become very low, fluid can leak out from the blood vessels into nearby tissues, causing swelling in the feet and ankles. Very low levels of albumin may be a sign of liver damage.

ALT and AST are enzymes made in the liver. They are also known as transaminases. The liver uses these enzymes to metabolize amino acids and to make proteins. When liver cells are damaged or dying, ALT and AST leak into the bloodstream. Many different things can cause liver enzymes to rise above normal levels, including:

* Liver tumors

* Viral hepatitis

* Excessive alcohol intake/ Alcoholic cirrhosis

* Liver inflammation from medications and certain herbs,Cirrhosis

* Fatty liver- fat build -up in liver cells

* Inherited liver diseases

ALT (also called alanine aminotransferase or SGPT) is found in the liver only. High levels of ALT in the bloodstream mean that there may be liver inflammation and/or damage. This test cannot predict liver damage or disease progression. It is a direct measurement of the amount of ALT in the person's bloodstream at the time of the test.

AST (also called aspartate aminotransferase or SGOT) is found in other organs besides the liver. High AST levels in the bloodstream can be a sign of liver trouble. AST testing measures the level of AST in a person's bloodstream at a given time.

GGT and ALP are also called cholestatic liver enzymes.

Chloestasis is a term used for partial or full blockage of the bile ducts. Bile ducts bring bile from the liver into the gallbladder and the intestines. Bile is a green fluid produced in liver cells. Bile helps the body to break down fat, process cholesterol and get rid of toxins.Liver function tests can indicate if the bile duct is inflamed or damaged, GGT and ALP can get backed up and spill out from the liver into the bloodstream.

ALP metabolizes phosphorus and brings energy to the body. GGT brings oxygen to tissues.

Causes of elevated ALP and GGT levels include:

* Scarring of the bile ducts

* Fatty liver (steatosis)

* Alcoholic liver disease

* Liver inflammation from medications and certain herbs

* Liver tumors

* Gallstones or gall bladder problems.

Bilirubin is a yellow fluid produced in the liver when worn-out red blood cells are broken down. Bilirubin can leak out from the liver into the bloodstream if the liver is damaged. When bilirubin builds up, it can cause jaundice - a yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine and light colored feces. The causes of abnormal bilirubin levels include:

* Viral hepatitis

* Blocked bile ducts

* Other liver diseases

* Liver scarring (cirrhosis)

Prothrombin (also called factor II) is a protein that helps to clot blood. Prothrombin is made in the liver. A prothrombin time test measures how much time it takes for a person's blood to clot. The normal time needed for blood to clot is between 10 and 15 seconds. A person with an abnormally long prothrombin time may be at risk for excessive bleeding. A longer prothrombin time can be caused by serious liver disease or:

* A lack of vitamin K

* Blood-thinning medicines

* Other medications that can interfere with the test

* Certain bleeding disorders

Another good reason to consider liver function tests is total protein testing (also called TP or serum total protein)this measures the amount of proteins in the bloodstream. Many different things can cause abnormally high or low protein levels. A doctor may order total protein testing to help diagnose kidney or liver disease, blood cancer, malnutrition or abnormal body swelling.

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