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Testing Liver Function

Winter 2000

Lab tests are often used to confirm a diagnosis (along with history and physical exam) and to monitor disease and treatment. Many lab tests measure enzyme levels. This is because when tissues are damaged cells die and enzymes are released into the blood. Levels of these enzymes are tested for, and these tests are often referred to as liver function tests. An organ system as complex as the liver will often be evaluated using several tests. This is because more than one system may release the same enzyme when the tissue is damaged. Therefore, when determining how the liver is working, and what may be causing problems, there are several tests that may be done together and are collectively known as "liver function tests."

It is the pattern of these tests' results that are used to determine how the liver is functioning, and what may be causing any problems. Don't hesitate to talk to your physician about any tests that are done, or to ask what they are being used for, (monitoring or diagnosing) what the results are, and how those results are being interpreted.

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