The Liver function tests (LFT test) are a sequence of blood tests performed to measure the levels of different components of enzymes, proteins, and substances released by the liver.
Since the liver is involved in some of the most important physiological activities of the human body like regulation of erythrocytes, fat metabolism, glucose synthesis, and storage of the same it is very important that the proper functioning of the organ is tested.
The different substances are often tested on a single blood sample because some of the tests look for the compounds that one may find in the bloodstream only when the liver is damaged or one has contracted a disease. While the remaining other tests look for the overall proper functioning of the gland.
Why perform liver functioning test?
The liver is responsible for one’s immune system as it is a part of the human limbic system. Simultaneously, it is one of the key components of the human digestive system, responsible for producing some of the most important proteins and enzymes. Some of the symptoms that one may face due to malfunctioning of the liver are
- Nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite
- Weakness, feeling tired
- Yellow pigmentation in the eyes and skin
- Dark pigmentation in urine
Apart from the above-mentioned symptoms, one’s physician may order LFT test if the patient
- Is a heavy drinker
- Has a family history of the liver-related disorders
- Is overweight
- Has diabetes or high blood pressure
- Takes medication affecting the liver or gall bladder
- Is exposed to certain viruses that may cause hepatitis
The cost of liver functioning test
An average cost of an LFT test in India ranges from as low as Rs 350 to as high as Rs 1350. Although the average cost across the metro cities and the first tier cities is around Rs 850. This fluctuation of the rates across the country is due to several factors like differences in infrastructure, service provided by the diagnostic centre (like home collection, etc.), along with the skill and efficiency of the person performing the tests.
As the LFT test is made to check the increased and decreased levels of the enzymes, proteins and certain components, the following test is performed for the same:
- Alanine transaminase – Alanine transaminase is the enzyme responsible for the breaking down of proteins in the liver cells. If the liver is not performing properly levels of Alanine transaminase increase in the bloodstream.
- Aspartate transaminase (AST)-AST is responsible for metabolizing amino acids, similar to transaminase, its levels peak indicating an improper functioning of the liver. Specifically, its increase indicates muscle damage.
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). -Found in bone marrow apart from the liver alkaline phosphate plays an important role in protein metabolism. Similar to the nature of the previous enzymes an increased amount of alkaline phosphatase liver damage, to be an exact blockage in the bile duct or a certain kind of bone disease.
- Albumin and total protein. – Human body needs proteins to recover and perform other functions. Albumin is one of the proteins which are formed in the liver. Albumin is responsible for the transport of various hormones, vitamins, and enzymes, as it helps to keep fluids from leaking out of the blood vessels. Hence, there has to be a certain level of albumin in the blood and anything less than that indicates liver damage.
- Bilirubin. Bilirubin is one of the by-products released during the breakdown of red blood cells, which through the liver passes out of the body as stool giving it the colour for the same. A significant increment in the levels of bilirubin sends a clear indication of either jaundice or a certain kind of anaemia.
- Gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT). GGT is an enzyme in the blood. It is an indicator of the quantity of alcohol intake of the concerned subject. Higher levels of the same may indicate bile duct damage and high alcohol consumption. Also, an increase in GGT has a direct correlation with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
- Prothrombin time (PT). PT is the time taken by one’s blood to clot, which ranges from 10-13 seconds. The range for PT varies from one individual to another depending upon the genetics and the lifestyle of the concerned individual. It is a protein released by one’s liver and is the first line of action during bleeding. Increased PT may indicate liver damage but can also be elevated if one is taking certain blood-thinning drugs. Physicians usually prefer to have a PT test before performing surgery to check whether there are any concerns regarding the patient’s blood clotting ability.
From the above tests and their normal range, a doctor can make an informed decision regarding the treatment of the patient. As it helps to very accurately identify which test results are disturbed, and are diagnosed accordingly. Through this, the other glands and organs are not disturbed and the patient will get an accurate treatment for his/her concerns.
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