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Patient education: Liver panel (The Basics)

Patient education: Liver panel (The Basics)

What is a liver panel? — This is a blood test that checks how well the liver is working. It is also called a "hepatic panel." "Panel" means that multiple tests are done on the same blood sample.

Some parts of the liver panel measure liver function, or how well the liver is working. Other parts of the panel can show if the liver has been injured. The panel measures:

Albumin – This is a protein made in the liver.

Total protein – This measures the total amount of protein in the blood. There are 2 main types of proteins, called albumin and globulin.

Certain enzymes made in the liver – Enzymes are substances that keep the body working normally. If the liver is injured or damaged, it might release more enzymes than usual. Liver enzymes include:

Alkaline phosphatase ("ALP")

Alanine transaminase ("ALT")

Aspartate transaminase ("AST")

Gamma-glutamyl transferase ("GGT")

Bilirubin – This is a waste product made in the liver.

Prothrombin time – This test measures how long it takes for blood to clot. If your blood takes longer than normal to clot, this can be a sign of liver damage or another health problem.

If any of these test results are abnormal, this can be a sign of a problem. Other tests might be done, too, depending on the specific lab where your blood is tested.

Why might I need a liver panel? — You might get a liver panel:

If you have symptoms suggesting that you might have a liver problem

If you are at risk for developing liver problems

As part of a routine check-up

To check how well your liver is working, if you have been diagnosed with a liver problem

To monitor side effects from certain medicines

You might also get a liver panel if your results on a different type of blood test were abnormal.

Based on the results of your liver panel, your doctor or nurse will decide if you need other tests or treatment.

How do I prepare for a liver panel? — For this test, you need to get a "blood draw." Your doctor or nurse will tell you where to go for this.

It might help to wear a short-sleeve shirt to your blood draw appointment. This makes it easier for the person drawing your blood to get to your arm.

What happens during a blood draw? — For the blood draw, a needle is used to take a small amount of blood from your arm (figure 1). Collecting the blood only takes a few minutes. The blood is then tested in a lab.

Tell the person who takes your blood:

If you take "blood thinner" medicines or if you have a bleeding problem – They will make sure that your bleeding is under control before you leave.

If you have a latex allergy – Some of the supplies used for blood draws might contain latex.

If you have a preferred arm to use

Most of the time, getting blood taken does not cause problems. You might have a little soreness or bruising where the needle went in.

What do my results mean? — Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to expect your results, and will contact you with the results. Or if you use an online "patient portal," you might get an alert there when your results are ready.

If your liver panel shows any abnormal results, your doctor or nurse will talk to you about what to do next. They might need to do more tests to figure out what the cause is.

If you do have a health problem, your doctor will work with you to come up with a plan for treatment.

More on this topic

Patient education: Albumin blood test (The Basics)
Patient education: Bilirubin test (The Basics)
Patient education: Prothrombin time and INR (PT/INR) (The Basics)
Patient education: Cirrhosis (The Basics)
Patient education: Metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (The Basics)
Patient education: Hepatitis B (The Basics)
Patient education: Hepatitis C (The Basics)
Patient education: Liver cancer (The Basics)
Patient education: Hepatic encephalopathy (The Basics)
Patient education: Esophageal varices (The Basics)

Patient education: Cirrhosis (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Hepatitis B (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Hepatitis C (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Esophageal varices (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Jun 02, 2024.
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