Alkaline Phosphatase Test

What is the alkaline phosphatase test?

This test measures an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase (ALP) in your blood. Enzymes are chemicals that help the cells of your body work. ALP is an enzyme found in most tissues, especially in the liver and bones.

Why is this test done?

The amount of ALP in your blood is measured to help diagnose liver and bone disease. The test may also be used to help check medical treatments that can damage the liver or bones.

How do I prepare for this test?

  • You may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that you are taking. Don’t stop any of your regular medicines without first consulting with your healthcare provider.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the test.

How is the test done?

Having this test will take just a few minutes. A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your test.

What does the test result mean?

Some of the reasons your ALP may be higher than normal are:

  • You have a liver infection such as viral hepatitis.
  • You have a blockage in your liver or gallbladder caused by gallstones or a tumor.
  • You have liver disease caused by toxins such as alcohol.
  • Your liver is inflamed because of certain medicines you are taking.
  • You have liver cancer.
  • You have bone cancer or another bone disease.
  • You have kidney disease.
  • Your body needs more vitamin D.
  • You are pregnant.

Your ALP may be lower than normal if:

  • Your body is not getting the nutrients it needs from your diet.
  • You have anemia.

What if my test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your medical history, physical exam, and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about the results and ask questions, such as:

  • If you need more tests
  • What kind of treatment you might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes you might need to make
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-05-27
Last reviewed: 2014-07-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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