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Hepatic Function Panel

Also Known as: Liver function panel, liver profile, liver function test, LFT 

What is a Hepatic function panel test?

Hepatic function tests (also known as a liver function test) are blood tests that examine the liver's ability to produce various enzymes, proteins, and other substances. These tests assess the overall health and function of your liver. A hepatic function panel can diagnose and monitor the progression of liver disorders and can also tell your healthcare provider if you have any other health problems that may affect your liver. Different substances can be measured at the same time on a single blood sample, which may include:

  • Albumin: a protein that is produced in the liver.
  • Total Protein: The total amount of protein in the blood is measured by this test.
  • ALP (alkaline phosphatase): An enzyme found in the liver, bones, and other tissues. 
  • ALT (alanine transaminase): Enzyme found primarily in the liver. 
  • AST (aspartate aminotransferase): Enzyme found in the liver, muscle, and organs. 
  • GGT (Gamma-glutamyl transferase): Enzyme found in the liver and other organs. 
  • Bilirubin is a waste product produced by the liver.
  • Globulin: Globulin is a type of protein found in the blood that is produced by the liver and immune system. 

What is the test used for?

The most common uses for hepatic function tests are to:

  • Assist in the diagnosis of liver diseases such as hepatitis.
  • Monitoring treatment of liver disease to identify how effective the treatment is.
  • Examine the extent to which disease, such as cirrhosis, has damaged or scarred the liver.
  • Monitor the side effects of certain medications.

Why and when do you need this test?

If you experience symptoms of liver disease, you may need to get your liver function tested. These are some of the symptoms:

  • Jaundice ( which is a yellow discoloration of the eyes and skin)
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Light-colored stools
  • Fatigue

These tests may also be required if you have certain risk factors of liver disease, such as:

  • Have a history of liver disease in your family.
  • Been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (a condition in which you cannot manage how much you drink)
  • If you have been exposed or infected with the hepatitis virus
  • Taking medications that could damage your liver.

What kind of sample is required for the test?

A small needle will be used by a healthcare professional to obtain a blood sample into a test tube or vial from a vein in your arm. It may sting a little when the needle is inserted. The whole process usually takes less than five minutes.

 Do you need to prepare for the test?

You may require to fast before the test (not eat or drink) for 10-12 hours. If there are any other special instructions to follow regarding additional testing, your health care provider will inform you.

Are there any risks to this test?

There is relatively more minor risk in getting a blood test. You may experience minor pain or bruising where the needle gets inserted, but most symptoms disappear quickly.

What do the test results mean?

While abnormal values of one test component can provide valuable information, healthcare providers typically interpret these values in connection with another.  However, the reference ranges used by the laboratory that evaluated your blood sample may be seen on your test result. It is possible that one or more of your liver function tests were abnormal, indicating that your liver is damaged or not functioning correctly. There are a variety of diseases that can harm the liver, including:

When test results are abnormal, doctors commonly seek specific abnormalities in the detected levels.

  • When there is acute or chronic liver damage, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels rise disproportionately compared to alkaline phosphatase levels (ALP).
  • Bile duct blockage is more usually associated with a disproportionate increase in ALP than ALT and AST.
  • Elevated bilirubin with normal ALT, AST, and ALP levels can indicate disorders impacting the normal metabolism of bilirubin.

The degree to which a measurement is increased or abnormal can reveal the type and severity of a liver problem. It is important to remember that these test findings are not meant to be interpreted in isolation. At the same time, your healthcare provider will consider your current health, symptoms, and medical history along it. Because some medications hurt the liver, your doctor will take any medications you are taking into account while evaluating your test results.

Should you have any questions regarding your result, always consult your healthcare provider.

Related Tests :

comprehensive metabolic panel, basic metabolic panel, Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), Alkaline phosphatase (ALP),  Albumin, Total protein (TP), Bilirubin, Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on June 05, 2023. 


Liver Function Tests: MedlinePlus Medical Test

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