Known to perform 100s of bodily functions; the liver, being a super organ, also needs the right liver care. Understand the details of different liver diagnostic tests.
Liver Care with Right Diagnostic Tests
The liver is an indispensable organ of our body that supports almost every other organ. It is known to carry all kinds of functions essential for our well-being. Any damage might lead to a number of symptoms indicative of several kinds of liver disease. To assess the severity of these liver diseases, liver function tests are ordered by the doctors.
When can your Doctors Advise you to Take Up Liver Function Tests?
Your doctor may advise you if he/she notices certain signs and symptoms of liver damage or disease. These includes:
- The yellowness of skin, urine, or eyes (white part of your eyes called sclera)
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness or fatigue
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Heavy drinking
- Family history of liver disease
What is a Liver Function Test?
It is not a single test but a group of tests by which your doctor can the overall health of your liver. These tests check different proteins and enzymes which are produced by the liver and are released in the blood during liver damage. These tests can help in:
- Predicting liver damage due to hepatitis
- Monitoring the effects of medications on liver
- Checking gallbladder diseases
- Confirming alcoholic liver disease or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- And liver problems associated with other diseases
What are the Different Types of Liver function Tests?
There are several types of liver function tests, but the most commonly used are:
1. Alanine Amino Transferase (ALT) Test & Aspartate Amino Transferase (AST) Test: These are the enzymes produced by the liver and are released if the liver is damaged. Its values are usually very high in the case of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). The ratio of its values may indicate alcoholic liver disease or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
2. Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) Test: It is also an enzyme that is found mostly in the bile ducts of the liver. High levels of ALP is generally observed in obstructive or cholestatic liver disease (a condition wherein, bile necessary for digestion is not transported from the liver to the intestine, due to blockage of the bile duct).
3. Gamma Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT) Test: Primarily produced in the liver and pancreas, it is used to assess liver function, indicate liver diseases, and detect alcohol abuse. Certain drugs for epilepsy or heavy alcohol consumption can elevate their levels.
4. Bilirubin Test: This test measures bilirubin, a waste product produced as a result of red blood cell breakdown. It is cleaned by the liver to eliminate it through your stool. High levels of bilirubin can indicate probable liver damage and jaundice.
5. Albumin Test: It is a protein made by the liver for different functions. In chronic liver disease, decreased levels are observed. Other conditions like malnutrition or kidney damage can also be the reason for decreased levels.
6. Other Tests: Tests like prothrombin time (PTT) and L-lactate dehydrogenase (LD) test can also be done to assess the liver functions.