What is the liver panel test?
This blood test measures several different enzymes made by the liver. Enzymes are chemicals that help the cells of your body work.
In addition to liver enzymes, the test also measures:
- Bilirubin, which is a substance formed from the breakdown of red blood cells. It moves through the blood to the liver and is then excreted from the body. High bilirubin levels turn the skin a yellow color called jaundice.
- Albumin and other blood proteins, which are needed to build strong muscles and bones. If the liver has a problem, it may not be able to make proteins like it should. Albumin is one type of protein that the test measures.
This test is also called a liver function test.
Why is this test done?
This test is done to see how well your liver is working and to check for liver damage and disease. The test is also helpful for checking how well treatment of a disease is working.
How do I prepare for this test?
- Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the test. Food and drink before the test may affect the results.
- Drinking a lot of alcohol within a day or two of the test can cause abnormal results. Itâ€™s recommended that you avoid alcohol for about 48 hours before the test.
- A virus, such as stomach flu, can cause abnormal results. If you have been ill in the past few days, you should let your healthcare provider know. You may want to reschedule the 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. Ask your provider before stopping any of your regular medicines.
- 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 do the test results mean?
The results of your liver function test may not be normal if:
- You are taking medicine that is causing liver problems.
- You have an infection that is affecting your liver, such as mononucleosis (mono) or hepatitis.
- You have liver damage or disease, such as cirrhosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or cancer.
- You have a blockage in the liver or gallbladder. For example, gallstones might cause a blockage.
This test for enzymes is most often done to look for liver problems, but the enzymes are made in other parts of the body as well. For example, one of the enzymes is also made by the bones. This means that sometimes abnormal results of this test may be caused by conditions or diseases in parts of the body other than the liver. You may need to have more blood tests to find out which part of the body the extra enzyme is coming from.
Results that are lower than normal are usually not a cause for concern.
What if my test results are 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 your result 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
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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.
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