A liver panel is a group of tests that are performed together to detect, evaluate, and monitor liver disease or damage. The liver is a vital organ located in the upper right-hand part of the abdomen and behind the lower ribs. It takes up most of the space under the ribs and some space in the left upper abdomen as well.
The liver function test consists of several tests that measure the following:
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) – an enzyme mainly found in the liver; the best test for detecting hepatitis
Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) – an enzyme related to the bile ducts but also produced by the bones, intestines, and during pregnancy by the placenta (afterbirth); often increased when bile ducts are blocked or damaged
Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) – an enzyme found in the liver and a few other organs, particularly the heart and other muscles in the body
Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) – another enzyme found mainly in liver cells; it is a very sensitive marker for liver diseases, but it is not specific as it cannot differentiate between various causes of liver diseases. GGT is not recommended for routine use. It is used in conjunction with ALP to determine the source of increased ALP, either from bone or liver. High level of GGT can be found with alcohol consumption.
Albumin – measures the main protein made by the liver; the level can be affected by liver and kidney function and by decreased production or increased loss.
Total protein (TP) – measures albumin and all other proteins in blood, including antibodies made to help fight off infections
Bilirubin – two different tests of bilirubin often used together (especially if a person has jaundice): total bilirubin measures all the bilirubin in the blood; direct bilirubin measures a form that is conjugated (combined with another compound) in the liver.
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