A series of special blood tests can often determine whether or not the liver is inflamed,
injured, or functioning properly. These tests can also distinguish between acute and
chronic liver disorders and between hepatitis (infection or inflammation of the liver)
and cholestasis (disruption in the formation of or obstruction in the flow of bile).
Serum alkaline phosphatase test. This test is used to measure the level of alkaline phosphatase (an enzyme) in the
blood. Alkaline phosphatase is found in many tissues, with the highest concentrations
in the liver, biliary tract, and bone. This test may be performed to assess liver
functioning and to find liver lesions that may cause biliary obstruction, such as
tumors or abscesses.
Alanine transaminase (ALT) test. This test measures the level of alanine aminotransferase. This is an enzyme found
mostly in the liver that is released into the bloodstream after acute liver cell damage.
This test may be performed to assess liver function, and/or to evaluate treatment
of acute liver disease, such as hepatitis.
Aspartate transaminase (AST) test. This test measures the level of aspartate transaminase. This is an enzyme that is
found in the liver, kidneys, pancreas, heart, skeletal muscle, and red blood cells
that is released into the bloodstream after liver or heart problems. This enzyme is
released into the bloodstream after acute liver cell damage.
Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase test. This test measures the level of gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase. This is an enzyme that
is made in the liver, pancreas, and biliary tract. This test is often performed to
assess liver function, to provide information about liver diseases, and to detect
Lactic dehydrogenase test. This test can find tissue damage and may assist in the diagnosis of liver disease.
Lactic dehydrogenase is a type of protein (also called an isoenzyme). It is involved
in the body's metabolic process. However, this is a very nonspecific liver test. It
is rarely used for liver disease assessment.