Alkaline Phosphatase

What is Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP)?

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme located in various parts of the body that helps speed up chemical reactions at low pH levels. It is primarily found in the liver, bile, and bones, but can also be found in the intestine, placenta, and kidneys. ALP helps breakdown proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and can also be released in response to injury or inflammation.

Preparation for an Alkaline Phosphatase Test

There is usually no preparation for an ALP test. However, some tests require fasting for 8-12 hours prior to the test. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. Your doctor should inform you if you need to fast before the test.

Procedure for Alkaline Phosphatase Test

The test for alkaline phosphatase involves either a simple blood test or sometimes also a urine sample. For the blood test, a technician will draw a sample of blood from your arm to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. The technician will use a needle to do the drawing and you may feel a slight pinch as the needle enters your skin. For a urine sample, you will fill a cup with urine to be tested.

Types of Alkaline Phosphatase

ALP is produced by three main sources: intestinal, placental, and bone. Intestinal ALP is found in the small intestine and is released in response to infections in the small intestine. Placental ALP is produced by the placenta and helps in the breakdown of proteins and fats. Bone ALP is found in the bones and is released in response to bone growth.

Risks of an Alkaline Phosphatase Test

An ALP test is a typical blood test and generally poses no risks. Since it requires a sample of your blood, there is a small risk of infection due to the needle poking your skin. Additionally, some people may experience dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting from the procedure.

Why is Alkaline Phosphatase Test Done?

An ALP test is used to detect liver and bone problems. It is often used to diagnose liver diseases, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, and bone diseases, such as Paget’s disease and osteomalacia. An abnormally high ALP level can also indicate prostate cancer or gallstones.

When to Perform Alkaline Phosphatase Test?

Your doctor may order an ALP test if you experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, jaundice, or bone pain. An ALP test may also be done to monitor tumor progression or effectiveness of treatments for liver or bone diseases. People with a family history of certain liver or bone diseases may also be advised to have an ALP test.