Determination of hepatic function

Determining Liver Function

The liver is an essential organ for our body to keep it healthy by performing functions such as filtering and breaking down toxins, producing bile, producing proteins, converting vitamins and minerals, and breaking down fats and carbohydrates. Therefore, it is important to assess the condition of the liver before any health issues arise.

Liver function tests (LFTs) are blood tests used to measure the levels of proteins and what’s commonly referred to as “liver enzymes” in the bloodstream. An abnormality in any of the tests would indicate that something is wrong with the liver.

LFTs are further divided into several categories:

  • Bilirubin test -- measures the level of this waste product that is produced when red blood cells wear out.
  • Albumin -- measures the level of this important protein, which helps to maintain osmotic pressure and regular functioning of cells in the body.
  • Transaminases (also called ‘aspartate aminotransferase’ and ‘alanine aminotransferase’) -- measure level of these two enzymes, which are produced in the liver.
  • Aminotransferases (also called ‘alkaline phosphatase’ and ‘gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase’) -- measure level of these two enzymes, which are associated primarily with the gallbladder and bile ducts.
  • GGT -- measures the level of this enzyme, which breaks down proteins.
  • Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) -- measures the enzyme that helps to convert glucose into energy.

These tests are done to check the presence of diseases that can affect the liver such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver or drug-induced liver injury. Your doctor may suggest LFTs if you have symptoms of liver disease such as fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. In some cases, doctors may request LFTs if they suspect that a person is taking certain medications that could cause liver damage.

A normal LFT result means that the liver function is within the acceptable range and that the patient is not facing any liver damage due to any diseases or medications. Regular LFTs are recommended for people who are more likely to have a higher risk of liver issues, such as those with a family history of liver disease; those who are more prone to infections; those on certain medications; and those who consume large amounts of alcohol.