Liver Function Tests

Liver function tests (LFTs or LFs), are groups of clinical biochemistry laboratory blood assays designed to give information about the state of a patient's liver. The parameters measured include Prothrombin time (PT/INR), aPTT, albumin, bilirubin (direct and indirect) and others. Liver transaminases (AST (SGOT) and ALT (SGPT)) are useful biomarkers of liver injury in a patient with some degree of intact liver function. Most liver diseases cause only mild symptoms initially, but it is vital that these diseases be detected early.

Hepatic (liver) involvement in some diseases can be of crucial importance. This testing is performed by a medical technologist on a patient's serum or plasma sample obtained by phlebotomy.

Some tests are associated with functionality (e.g., albumin); some with cellular integrity (e.g., transaminase) and some with conditions linked to the biliary tract (gamma-glutamyl transferase and alkaline phosphatase). Several biochemical tests are useful in the evaluation and management of patients with hepatic dysfunction. These tests can be used to (1) detect the presence of liver disease, (2) distinguish among different types of liver disorders, (3) gauge the extent of known liver damage, and (4) follow the response to treatment. Some or all of these measurements are also carried out (usually about twice a year for routine cases) on those individuals taking certain medications anticonvulsants are a notable example in order to ensure that the medications are not damaging the person's liver.

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