About all

What blood tests indicate liver function: Liver function tests – Doctors & Departments


Do I Have Cirrhosis? What Tests and Exams Will My Doctor Use to Find Out?

Cirrhosis creates scars that damage your liver. This damage can prevent this vital organ from doing important jobs like helping with digestion and removing toxins from your body. The sooner your doctor diagnoses cirrhosis, the faster you can get treated and put a stop to the damage. You might even be able to reverse some of the scarring.

In its early stages, cirrhosis usually doesn’t cause symptoms. You might not realize you have it unless your doctor finds signs of liver damage on a blood test during a routine checkup.

If you do have symptoms like yellow skin (jaundice), fatigue, and easy bruising or bleeding, see your doctor right away. Blood tests and imaging scans can show whether you have cirrhosis.

Physical Examination

First, your doctor will ask about your symptoms, your health, and your family’s health history. They’ll also look for telltale signs of cirrhosis, like these:

  • A swollen belly
  • Liver size, sometimes enlarged and sometimes normal or small
  • Extra breast tissue (in men)
  • Redness on your palms
  • Yellow skin or eyes
  • Red blood vessels on your skin

Blood Tests

If you have symptoms of cirrhosis or you’re at risk for the disease, your doctor will take a sample of your blood. These help spot signs of cirrhosis liver damage. They may help your doctor learn what caused the disease.

Liver tests measure levels of enzymes and proteins your liver makes. These tests include:

  • Alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST). These help your body break down protein and amino acid. Levels of both ALT and AST in your blood are usually low. High levels can mean that your liver is leaking these enzymes because it’s damaged from cirrhosis or another disease. However, levels can still be normal if you have cirrhosis.
  • Albumin test. Albumin is a protein that’s made by the liver. When the liver is damaged, the level of albumin in the blood falls.
  • Bilirubin level. This is a yellow pigment that’s left over when old blood cells are broken down. The liver normally removes bilirubin from the blood and gets rid of it in the stool. But when the liver isn’t working properly, bilirubin builds up in the blood and can cause the skin and eyes to become yellow. This is called jaundice.
  • Creatinine. This is a waste product made by your muscles. Your kidneys normally filter it out of your blood. A high creatinine level is a sign of kidney damage, which can happen in the late stages of cirrhosis.
  • Prothrombin time or international normalized ratio. Your liver makes substances that help your blood clot. This test checks to see how well your blood clots. If it clots too slowly, cirrhosis could be a possible cause.
  • Sodium blood test. If the sodium level in your blood is low, it could be an indicator that you have cirrhosis. A low level of sodium in the blood is called hyponatremia.

Your doctor can use the results of these tests to give you a Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score. This shows how much your liver has been damaged, and whether you need a liver transplant.

Other blood tests your doctor might order include:

Imaging Tests

Your doctor might order one or more of these to see if you have scarring or other damage to your liver:

  • CT scan. Using X-rays and a computer, it makes detailed pictures of your liver. You might get a contrast dye before the test to help your doctor see your liver more clearly.
  • MRI. This uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make pictures of your liver. You might get contrast dye before the test.
  • Ultrasound. It uses sound waves to make pictures of your liver.
  • Endoscopy. It uses a flexible tube with a light and camera on one end. It can be used to look for abnormal blood vessels called varices. These form when cirrhosis scars block blood flow in the portal vein that carries blood to your liver. Over time, pressure builds up in this vein. Blood backs up into blood vessels in the stomach, intestines, or esophagus.
  • Magnetic resonance elastography and transient elastography. These newer tests look for stiffness in your liver caused by cirrhosis scars. Your doctor might use them instead of a liver biopsy, because they’re less invasive. But they’re not yet widely available.

​​​​​​​Liver Biopsy

During this procedure, your doctor first numbs the skin on your belly over your liver. Then, they place a thin needle through your belly into your liver and removes a small piece of tissue. They might use a CT scan, ultrasound, or other imaging method to guide the needle.

The tissue sample goes to a lab. A lab tech looks at it under a microscope for signs of damage. A biopsy can diagnose cirrhosis and help your doctor learn the cause.

Getting the Right Diagnosis

Other diseases can have some of the same symptoms as cirrhosis. Make sure you’re comfortable with your doctor’s diagnosis. If not, you always have the option to get a second opinion from another doctor.

Liver Function Tests – an overview

Liver Function Test Abnormalities: Clinicopathologic Correlates

LFTs are usually obtained incidentally as part of a blood chemistry panel. In SLE, nonspecific liver enzyme elevations occur frequently; however, the significance of such abnormalities has been a matter of controversy, and several studies have tried to address their importance (Table 37. 1). LFT abnormalities in SLE are the result of the administration of medications such as NSAIDs or methotrexate, or they are elevated because of increased muscle enzyme levels. It is thought that SLE patients have high levels of systemic oxidative stress, which makes them more susceptible to such drug-induced liver injury. Rarely, acute toxic hepatitis with 10-fold elevation in liver enzymes may occur with hydroxychlorquine.124

The association of liver abnormalities in SLE with disease activity remains unclear. In a longitudinal study of 435 SLE patients119 ≥2-fold elevation of AST or ALT was associated with higher SLEDAI (7.8 ± 0.7) relative to those without (5.8 ± 0.3; p = 0.0025). Presence of antismooth muscle antibodies, anti-DNA antibodies, hypocomplementemia, proteinuria, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and antiphospholipid syndrome was increased in those with LD. An absence of LD was noted among SLE patients receiving rapamycin (relative to azathioprine, cyclosporine, or cyclophosphamide) and N-acetylcysteine. LFTs were normalized, and SLEDAI was diminished with increased prednisone use in 76/90 LD patients over 12.1 ± 2.6 months. Miller and colleagues116 undertook a prospective study in 260 patients with SLE and 100 control subjects for 12 months. Of the 60 patients with SLE and abnormal liver function testing, 41 were traced to an identifiable cause (e.g., aspirin in 27 patients, alcohol in 6 patients, other causes in 7 patients). Thus they found a high incidence of subclinical LD; only 2% of patients had clinical LD. Moreover, in 12 of 15 patients with elevated transaminase levels, changes in serum ALT corresponded to active lupus. Petri and colleagues132 reported an association between elevated liver enzymes with disease activity, among 216 SLE patients with abnormal LFTs over 1717 visits. On the other hand, the same authors reported that severe LD can be present in patients with SLE with only minimal laboratory abnormalities consistent with active lupus. In another study elevations in LFTs were associated with disease activity and liver membrane autoantibodies. 133

Tsuji and colleagues134 reviewed the records of hospitalized patients with lupus over a decade and found 73 patients with elevated transaminases. Of these patients, 43 (58.9%) did not have an identifiable cause of elevated transaminases and was attributed to active SLE. Of the identifiable cause of elevated liver enzymes, seven (9.6%) patients were identified to have hemophagocytic syndrome on the basis of a significant elevation of serum ferritin levels. This group of patients also had the highest elevation in liver enzymes. Viral infections were not ruled out as the cause of hemophagocytic syndrome in this retrospective review.

van Hoek135 reviewed the causes of elevated liver enzymes in SLE and found that medications such as NSAIDs, aspirin, and azathioprine were the most common causes. LFT abnormalities may result from nonliver-related causes such as unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia, hemolysis, or hepatitis, resulting from immunologic, infectious, or drug-related causes. Takahashi and colleagues131 reported on 206 SLE patients, 123 (59.7%) of which had liver dysfunction. The causes of liver dysfunction were as follows: drug induced (30.9%), SLE induced (28.5%), fatty liver (17.9%), autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) (4.9%), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) (2.4%), cholangitis (1.6%), alcohol (1.6%), and viral hepatitis (0.8%).

Table 37.1 summarizes the important studies that reported pathologic findings of liver involvement in SLE.120,125-131 Based on the studies in Table 37.1, fatty liver is very common in SLE. Fatty livers are usually associated with corticosteroid therapy. Matsumoto and colleagues120 published their findings on 73 liver biopsies and found that fatty liver was identified in 72% of the cases. Several additional reports in the literature have commented on the presence of nodular regeneration and hyperplasia in SLE. The patients in these reports had normal LFT results. This underdiagnosed finding could be secondary to steroid or danazol administration. Concentric membranous bodies in hepatocytes are found in hepatomas but are occasionally seen in lupus, and they reflect increased protein synthesis during regeneration. End-stage LD is not common in SLE unless accompanied by other diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty LD, AIH, or viral hepatitis.

Another rare finding in lupus is peliosis hepatis. In this condition, blood-filled spaces occur in the liver from diverse causes including injury from drugs and infections on the flow of blood from the sinusoids to the centrilobular veins. Langlet136 reported on three patients associated with lupus that improved with immunosuppressive treatment.

In summary, most patients with SLE and elevated LFTs have liver biopsy specimens that reveal nodules, mild fatty changes, or mild fibrosis. Rarely, features of chronic active hepatitis are found.

Hepatic Function Blood Test | Walk-In Lab

Order a hepatic function panel and browse wide range of blood tests from Walk-In Lab that can be completed with confidentiality, affordability, and convenience in mind. You’ll be able to access the medical testing kits you need, at prices that are often far lower than what you may find through traditional healthcare networks. When time is of the essence and costs must be considered, choose Walk-in Lab every time! And now, our hepatic function panels are available, and they’re able to test for a host of liver functionality concerns, including:

• Amino acid levels: Appropriate levels of amino acids in the blood will allow the body to regulate nearly every function and process within the body. These acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they aid in the building and maintenance of bones, tendons, skin, ligaments, and more.
• Total protein: This test detects the protein levels in the blood and measures both major groups of blood proteins – albumin and globulin. Albumin is created in the liver and helps carry medicinal substances throughout the body. It can also help to repair and grow new tissue. Globulin is comprised of three proteins – alpha, beta, and gamma, and is helpful in fighting infections. Abnormal globulin levels can also indicate the presence of blood diseases.
• Bilirubin tests: The presence of bilirubin in the blood can indicate whether the liver is functioning appropriately. High levels of bilirubin can indicate blood disorders, jaundice, or blockage of the bile ducts. This is an especially important test for newborns, as the presence of high levels of bilirubin can inflict serious injury – including brain damage.
• Creatine serum levels: This important test detects the level of creatine in the blood. Creatine is a substance that is made primarily in the liver, then transported to the muscles where it acts as an energy source for muscle movement. Many individuals take creatine as a supplement, so it is important to tell your doctor if you are taking it – prior to the test.

Before taking any hepatic function panel or live blood tests, ensure that you follow the pre-testing requirements and act in accordance with doctor’s orders. These tests are remarkably accurate, but they may require the patient to abstain from food or alcohol prior to testing to ensure exact results. As always, you can expect incredibly low prices, a convenient and low-stress testing process, and remarkably quick turnaround times. Instead of paying exorbitant amounts for your hepatic blood testing, simply choose the testing kit that will help your doctor make an accurate assessment of your current health condition – select a test through Walk-in Lab.

A hepatic function panel can help you assess your present state of health, and liver concerns are often quite manageable when they are caught early on. Don’t let your health issue spiral out of control due to the high cost of testing, especially when you can order kits from Walk-in Lab for as low as $20! With a comprehensive suite of available tests at today’s lowest prices, you simply can’t go wrong.

Thank you for browsing our selection of Hepatic Function blood tests and panels. Shop additional Liver Tests confidentially and order online without insurance or a doctor’s note.

Choose One Lab: LABCORP (LC) or QUEST (QD) or ALL

Walk-In Lab is contracted with LabCorp (LC) and Quest Diagnostics (QD) for routine lab testing. Please choose LC or QD to complete your order. If you prefer to receive a kit by mail for specimen collection, please see our Home Test Kits. LC and QD tests must be ordered separately.

LabCorp: Online lab testing is prohibited in MA, MD, NY, NJ and RI.

Quest Diagnostics: Online lab testing is prohibited in NY, NJ and RI.

Liver Function Tests | SGOT & SGPT | ALT & AST

Liver function tests are a group of tests conducted in blood that help in diagnosing liver disorders and to detect inflammation and damage to the liver. LFT also check how well the liver is functioning. The tests measure the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in the blood.

Australia Antigen Test for Hepatitis B

Also known as HBsAg and Hepatitis B Surface Antigen, Australia antigen is Hepatitis B surface antigen. A positive Australia antigen test report means that the person may be suffering from hepatitis B. This may be acute hepatitis, chronic hepatitis or in carrier state. This test is done in a blood sample.

Liver function tests are done if:

  • You are on a long term regime of medication that can harm the liver
  • You have any suspected liver disease
  • You have symptoms of bile or liver disease ( such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, or yellowish discoloration of skin)
  • You drink alcohol regularly and excessively

Tests for liver enzymes

ALT and AST:

These enzymes, formerly known as SGOT and SGPT, are normally found in liver cells that leak out of cells and mixes in blood when liver cells gets injured. The ALT is a more specific indicator of liver inflammation as AST can also be found in other organs like heart and skeletal muscles. Due to injury to the liver, as in cases of viral hepatitis, the level of the ALT and AST may be used as a general indicator of the degree of liver damage or inflammation.

Alkaline phosphatise:

The alkaline phosphatise is a commonly used test to detect obstruction in the biliary system (bile vessels). Elevation of this enzyme may be found in gallstone disease, excessive alcohol abuse and drug-induced hepatitis. It can also be found in primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) or biliary tumours.

Other tests:


Bilirubin is the primary bile pigment which, when elevated causes the yellow discoloration of the skin, commonly known as jaundice and is a byproduct of the normal breakdown of red blood cells in the body. Bilirubin can be elevated in many forms of liver or biliary diseases.


It is a major protein which is formed by the liver. Although there could be several factors which can affect the level of albumin in the blood but chronic liver diseases causes a dip in the amount of albumin produced, and therefore the level of albumin in the blood gets reduced and shows up in the albumin test.


Gamma-glutamyltransferase is an enzyme found in the blood. Abnormally high levels may indicate liver or bile duct damage.

LDH-lactate dehydrogenase is also an enzyme found in the liver and its elevated levels may indicate liver damage.

A regular preventive health checkup will keep you updated with the status of your liver and its functioning.

Depending on the results of certain tests, many ailments and diseases can be easily detected. Liver function tests give an insight of liver health. Indus Health Plus offers comprehensive health checkup and offers your complete health status in a better way. Get in touch with us by filling up the query form and our team will contact you soon.

Also known as HBsAg and Hepatitis B Surface Antigen, Australia antigen is Hepatitis B surface antigen. A positive Australia antigen test report means that the person may be suffering from hepatitis B. This may be acute hepatitis, chronic hepatitis or in carrier state. This test is done in a blood sample.

Are you looking to modify your lifestyle and habits to improve the quality of your life? Answer simple questions related to your Immunity, Fitness, Nutrition, Health and Habits check your health assessment. View More

Was This Article Helpful?