The liver is a large vital organ that performs many critical functions to maintain health and sustain life. It is located at the right upper portion of the abdomen just below the right side of the chest, extending into the middle postion of the abdomen. To understand what liver function tests are and why they are taken, it is first necessary to know more about liver function.
Important Functions of the Liver
The liver is a complex organ that:
Manufactures proteins, including blood clotting factors and albumin
Synthesizes, stores and metabolizes fats, fatty acids and cholesterol
Metabolizes carbohydrates and stores them for energy
Forms and secretes bile, which contains the bile acid ...view middle of the document...
Therefore, sometimes, in the presence of risk factors, doctors may request for a liver function test to be done to screen for certain conditions or to confirm a suspected disease before proper treatment is prescribed.
Liver Function Tests
A liver function test (LFT), also known as liver panel or liver enzyme test, is used to check the level of proteins and enzymes in the blood. It is done by taking a blood smaple from a large vein (usually in the arm), which is then taken to the laboratory for evaluation. An increase or decrease in these levels may indicate the presence of a liver problem. LFTs may also be done to screen for hepatitis infection, to monitor the severity or progression of a liver disease, and to monitor for possible side effects of drugs. Certain risk factors such as obesity and chronic alcohol abuse may predispose patients to liver disease, so doctors may check for abnormal liver function as needed. Some of these tests are non-specific and additional blood tests may be required to make a more accurate diagnosis of certain liver diseases.
Common LFTs may include the following tests:
Total protein and albumin. The liver synthesizes many proteins, including albumin, which the body need to perform many functions, including fighting infections. Levels of albumin that are lower than normal may indicate liver disease but it may also be associated with other problems such as malnutrition.
Bilirubin. This substance is produced normally from the breakdown of aging red blood cells. Bilirubin is metabolized by the liver before it is excreted in the stool. Elevated bilirubin levels may result in jaundice and usually indicates damage or liver disease. Other conditions associated with increase bilirubin include gallbladder disease and hemolytic anemia.
Alanine transaminase or ALT....