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Blood Test: Liver Function Tests

What Is a Blood Test?

A blood test is when a sample of blood is taken from the body to be tested in a lab. Doctors order blood tests to check things such as the levels of glucose, hemoglobin, or white blood cells. This can help them detect problems like a disease or medical condition. Sometimes, blood tests can help them see how well an organ (such as the liver or kidneys) is working.

What Is a Hepatic (Liver) Function Panel?

A hepatic (pronounced: hih-PAT-ik) function panel is a blood test that helps doctors check for liver injury, infection, or disease. It also can check for side effects in the liver from some medicines.

Why Are Liver Function Panels Done?

Doctors order a liver function panel to learn about the levels of:

  • Albumin (pronounced: al-BYOO-min) and total protein: These help build and maintain muscles, bones, blood, and organ tissue. Low levels can be a sign of liver or kidney disease, or nutritional problems.
  • Liver enzymes: Alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) are enzymes that help the liver convert food into energy. High levels can be a sign that the liver is injured or irritated.
  • Bilirubin (pronounced: bil-ih-ROO-ben): This pigment is made when red blood cells break down. The liver changes it so the body can excrete (get rid of) it. High bilirubin levels may be a sign of a liver problem, and also can make skin look yellow, a condition called jaundice (pronounced: JON-diss).

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the liver function panel or what the test results mean, talk to your doctor.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date Reviewed: Nov 10, 2022

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