LFT stands for Liver function test and is popularly called the liver chemistries. It is a type of blood test which is used to diagnose liver damage or disorder. This test monitors the level of enzymes and proteins present in the blood.
This test is performed to monitor the functioning of the liver, and the production of enzymes and proteins in the blood. Abnormal functioning of the liver or excess enzyme production might indicate liver infection, however, doctors can better explain the test report. Read the article to know more about the Liver function test.
When should you opt for a Liver function test?
The liver is among the most important organs in our body that perform various functions. Majorly it plays a role in the digestion process. Its major function is:
- Cleansing of the blood
- Break down food
- Production of enzymes and protein
- Store energy
LFT test is done to monitor the functioning of the liver and help detect any liver infection or diseases like hepatitis or cirrhosis. LFT is also used to assess the effect of drugs and medicines. Fluctuation in the level of enzyme or protein might be an indicator of liver disease. Your doctor may ask you to go through an LFT if you experience the following symptoms:
- Yellow eyes (Jaundice Eyes)
- Pain in abdomen
- Vomiting and Nausea
- Abdominal Pain
- Lack of appetite
- Belly Swelling
- Weakness or feeling fatigued
However, sometimes symptoms are not that prevalent enough to get noticed. Yet the doctor asks to get LFT done in the following cases:
- If your family has a history of liver issues.
- Obesity, High BP, or issues with diabetes
- Alcohol addiction is a condition
- If the concerned individual is on medication that may potentially cause harm to the liver.
- Exposure to the hepatitis virus
A liver functioning test in the above cases helps doctors determine the effect of treatment on your body and whether it has any side effects on the liver or not.
How to prepare for LFT?
You need to prepare yourself before getting the Liver functioning test done as per your doctor’s instruction. They might ask you to pause the medication a few days before the test as medications may alter the level of enzymes as well as protein present in the blood. Drink enough water before the test and wear loose clothes so that it’s easier for you to roll up your sleeves for blood sample collection.
Liver Function Test and its Types
Different types of LFTs are performed depending upon the doctor’s instruction. Here are some of the common LFTs that are mostly ordered:
- Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) Test: ALP is an enzyme present in the bone, liver and bile ducts. Increases in the level of ALP indicate liver disorder, bone disease, or blocked bile duct.
- Aspartate Transaminase (AST) Test: AST is a type of enzyme present in the liver. Increases in the levels of AST indicate liver infection.
- Alanine Transaminase (ALT) Test: ALT is an enzyme, primarily present in the liver. Its function is to break down proteins. Increases in the level of ALT indicate liver damage.
- Bilirubin Test: Bilirubin is an enzyme which is made in our body by breaking down Red blood cells. Our liver cleans the Bilirubin from the body. However, the increase in the level of Bilirubin might indicate liver infection or Jaundice.
- Albumin and Total Protein Test: Globulin and Albumin are two primary enzymes produced by the Liver. A decrease in the level of these enzymes is an indicator of liver damage.
- Prothrombin Time (PT) Test: The prothrombin test is performed to evaluate the time taken by the blood to form a clot. If it takes longer to clot then, there is a high chance of damage.
- L- Lactate Dehydrogenase (LD) Test: Increase in the level of LD in the blood also indicates liver disease, however, there might be other reasons behind this increase.
- Gamma-Glutamyltransferase (GGT) Test: Increase in the level of GGT enzyme indicates liver infection or bile duct damage.
What happens in LFT?
LFT is a type of blood test in which the authorized medical professional takes the blood sample from the vein in the arm using a needle. Needles extract a small quantity of blood which is then collected in a vial or closed test tube. Further, this blood sample is sent for proceedings. The entire process takes approximately 5 minutes.
What do the reports indicate?
If the liver function test report does not appear normal then it might be an indication of liver damage or infection. There is multiple reasons for the abnormal LFT test report such as:
- Liver Cancer
- Hepatitis A, B or C
However, you should consult your doctor for any advice regarding the reports. They will interpret the result better.
The liver is an important body organ and thus needs to be taken care of. LFTs are performed at the suggestion of a doctor if they notice any symptoms. Liver functioning tests are safe, however, you might experience a bruise or soreness in the area where blood is taken from.