Liver Function Testing
Liver disease has increased by over 25% in the last decade, the sharpest rise being in those aged over 50, and affects at least 1.8 million people in the UK. Did you know:
- Spotting the symptoms of liver disease can be difficult
- Liver disease is generally categorised as alcoholic and non alcoholic related
- Liver disease can be caused by fat building up in your liver cells
Your check for liver disease
Your check for liver disease involves a simple blood test in which we will analyse your levels of AST, ALT, Gamma GT, Total Bilirubin and Alkaline Phosphatase, all of which are produced by the liver.
Diseases affecting the liver or bile duct may cause elevated levels of one or more of these substances in your blood and the pattern of elevation can give clues as to the underlying problem:
AST (Aspartate Transferase)
AST is an enzyme found throughout your body: heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and muscle tissues. It is a common measure for liver health raised levels may reflect liver damage.
ALT (Alanine Transferase)
Fluctuation of ALT levels is normal over the course of the day so elevated levels do not automatically mean there is a problem. ALT is also produced by your bones and elevated levels may also reflect bone disorders.
Alkaline Phosphate (ALP)
ALP is produced mainly in your liver and bones, raised levels may indicate blocked bile ducts or bone disorders whereas low levels (less common) may indicate blood disorders such as anaemia.
Gamma GT is elevated by large quantities of alcohol and may indicate excess alcohol consumption up to 3 or 4 weeks prior to the test. Elevated levels of Gamma GT may also be due to congestive heart failure, however various medications can also raise Gamma GT levels.
Bilirubin is a breakdown product of red blood cells, which is processed by the liver and excreted via the bile duct. It can be raised in diseases of the liver or bile duct and certain blood disorders.
How to prepare
You do not need to fast prior to your test but you are advised to wear loose fitting clothing as we will need to take a blood sample.