Liver Function Panel

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.

Also known as: LFTs, Liver Function Tests, Liver Panel


Albumin is a protein made by the liver. A serum albumin test measures the amount of this protein in the clear liquid portion of the blood.

Albumin/Globulin Ratio

The ratio of albumin to globulin (A/G ratio) is calculated from measured albumin and calculated globulin (total protein - albumin). Normally, there is a little more albumin than globulins, giving a normal A/G ratio of slightly over 1. Because disease states affect the relative amounts of albumin and globulin, the A/G ratio may provide a clue as to the cause of the change in protein levels. A low A/G ratio may reflect overproduction of globulins, such as seen in multiple myeloma or autoimmune diseases, or underproduction of albumin, such as may occur with cirrhosis, or selective loss of albumin from the circulation, as may occur with kidney disease (nephrotic syndrome). A high A/G ratio suggests underproduction of immunoglobulins as may be seen in some genetic deficiencies and in some leukemias. More specific tests, such as liver enzyme tests and serum protein electrophoresis, must be performed to make an accurate diagnosis. With a low total protein that is due to plasma expansion (dilution of the blood), the A/G ratio will typically be normal because both albumin and globulin will be diluted to the same extent.

Alkaline Phosphatase

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is a protein found in all body tissues. Tissues with higher amounts of ALP include the liver, bile ducts, and bone.


Alanine transaminase (ALT) is an enzyme found in the highest amounts in the liver. Injury to the liver results in release of the substance into the blood.


AST (aspartate aminotransferase) is an enzyme found in high amounts in liver, heart, and muscle cells. It is also found in lesser amounts in other tissues.

Bilirubin, Direct

Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment found in bile, a fluid made by the liver. A small amount of older red blood cells are replaced by new blood cells every day. Bilirubin is left after these older blood cells are removed. The liver helps break down bilirubin so that it can be removed from the body in the stool.

Bilirubin, Indirect

Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment found in bile, a fluid made by the liver. A small amount of older red blood cells are replaced by new blood cells every day. Bilirubin is left after these older blood cells are removed. The liver helps break down bilirubin so that it can be removed from the body in the stool.

Bilirubin, Total

Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment found in bile, a fluid made by the liver. A small amount of older red blood cells are replaced by new blood cells every day. Bilirubin is left after these older blood cells are removed. The liver helps break down bilirubin so that it can be removed from the body in the stool.


Globulins is the collective term for most blood proteins other than albumin. Identifying the types of globulins can help diagnose certain disorders. Globulins are roughly divided into three groups: alpha, beta, and gamma globulins. Gamma globulines include various types of antibodies such as immunoglobulins (Ig) M, G, and A.

Protein, Total

The total protein is the total amount of two classes of proteins, albumin and globulin that are found in the fluid portion of your blood. Proteins are important parts of all cells and tissues. Your albumin helps prevent fluid from leaking out of blood vessels and your globulins are an important part of your immune system.
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The Liver Function Panel test contains 1 test with 10 biomarkers.

Brief Description: The Liver Function Panel test, also known as a Hepatic Function Test, is a group of blood tests that assess the overall health and function of the liver. It provides valuable information about liver enzymes, proteins, and other substances that are important for liver function. The Liver Function Panel test helps in the diagnosis and monitoring of liver diseases and evaluates the liver's ability to process and metabolize substances in the body.

Also Known As: Hepatic Panel Test, Liver Function Test, LFT, Liver Enzyme Test, Liver Test, Liver Blood Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation is required

When is a Liver Function Panel test ordered?

A Liver Function Panel test may be ordered in several situations to assess liver health and function:

  1. Screening for Liver Diseases: The test is commonly used as a routine screening tool to assess liver health, especially in individuals with risk factors such as alcohol abuse, obesity, viral hepatitis, or exposure to hepatotoxic substances.

  2. Evaluation of Abnormal Liver Enzymes: If other blood tests or clinical signs indicate elevated liver enzymes, the Liver Function Panel test helps identify the underlying cause and assess the extent of liver damage or dysfunction.

  3. Monitoring Liver Disease Progression: For individuals diagnosed with liver diseases, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or fatty liver disease, the Liver Function Panel test is ordered to monitor disease progression, evaluate treatment effectiveness, and assess liver function over time.

  4. Preoperative Evaluation: Prior to certain surgical procedures, the Liver Function Panel test may be ordered to evaluate liver function and ensure the patient can tolerate the stress of surgery and metabolize medications properly.

What does a Liver Function Panel blood test check for?

A liver panel is a collection of tests used to diagnose, evaluate, and track the progression of liver illness or damage. The liver is one of the largest organs in the body, and it is placed behind the lower ribs in the upper right section of the belly. Drugs and substances that are detrimental to the body are metabolized and detoxified by the liver. It makes blood clotting factors, proteins, and enzymes, as well as regulating hormone levels and storing vitamins and minerals. Bile, a fluid produced by the liver, is delivered to the small intestine via ducts to aid in fat digestion or to the gallbladder to be stored and concentrated for later use.

Inflammation, scarring, bile duct blockages, liver tumors, and liver dysfunction can all be caused by a range of disorders and infections that cause acute or chronic liver damage. Toxins, alcohol, narcotics, and some herbal medications can all be dangerous. Before signs like jaundice, dark urine, light-colored feces, itching, nausea, exhaustion, diarrhea, and unexplained weight loss or increase appear, there may be considerable liver damage. To reduce damage and preserve liver function, early identification is critical.

The liver panel assesses the enzymes, proteins, and chemicals generated, processed, or removed by the liver, as well as those that are altered by liver injury. Some are produced by damaged liver cells, while others indicate a reduction in the liver's ability to execute one or more activities. When these tests are performed combined, they provide a picture of a person's liver's health, an indication of the severity of any liver injury, changes in liver status over time, and a starting point for further diagnostic testing.

Lab tests often ordered with a Liver Function Panel test:

Other tests may be ordered alongside a Liver Function Panel to further investigate the cause of liver dysfunction or to check for specific liver conditions:

  1. Prothrombin time (PT):

    • Purpose: Measures the time it takes blood to clot. Liver damage can affect clotting factors produced by the liver.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess the liver's ability to produce clotting factors, which is an indicator of liver function, and to monitor effects of certain medications.
  2. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH):

    • Purpose: An enzyme that can be indicative of tissue damage.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Although not liver-specific, elevated LDH can suggest tissue damage, including from liver diseases.
  3. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP):

    • Purpose: A protein that is often elevated in certain types of liver cancer.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To screen for and monitor liver cancer, particularly hepatocellular carcinoma.
  4. Viral hepatitis serologies (Hepatitis A, B, and C tests):

    • Purpose: These tests check for the presence of antibodies or genetic material of the hepatitis viruses.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To determine if hepatitis virus infection is the cause of liver inflammation or damage.
  5. Ferritin and Iron Tests:

    • Purpose: Assess iron storage and metabolism, which can affect liver function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To check for hereditary hemochromatosis (iron overload) and other iron metabolism disorders.
  6. Antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA):

    • Purpose: AMAs are associated with autoimmune liver diseases.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To help diagnose primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), an autoimmune disorder that can lead to liver damage.
  7. Smooth muscle antibodies (SMA) and antinuclear antibodies (ANA):

    • Purpose: These are autoantibodies that may be present in autoimmune liver diseases.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To aid in the diagnosis of autoimmune hepatitis and other autoimmune conditions.
  8. Ceruloplasmin:

    • Purpose: A copper-carrying protein that can be low in Wilson's disease.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To diagnose Wilson's disease, a rare inherited disorder that causes copper accumulation in the liver.

The specific tests ordered will depend on the clinical context, such as the presence of symptoms indicative of liver disease, abnormal results on the initial liver panel, or the need to monitor the progression of a known liver condition. Each of these tests provides additional information that can help in forming a complete picture of liver health, diagnosing specific liver conditions, and guiding treatment decisions.

Conditions where a Liver Function Panel test is recommended:

A Liver Function Panel test is commonly ordered for:

  1. Liver Diseases: The test helps diagnose and monitor various liver diseases, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, drug-induced liver injury, and autoimmune liver diseases.

  2. Alcohol Abuse: Individuals with a history of alcohol abuse may require regular Liver Function Panel testing to monitor liver health and assess the impact of alcohol on liver function.

  3. Drug-induced Liver Injury: If a patient is taking medications known to potentially affect liver function, a Liver Function Panel test may be ordered to monitor liver enzymes and assess drug-induced liver injury.

How does my healthcare provider use a Liver Function Panel test?

Healthcare providers use the results of a Liver Function Panel test to:

  1. Assess Liver Function: The test provides information about liver enzyme levels, bilirubin levels, protein synthesis, and coagulation factors, allowing healthcare providers to assess liver function and overall liver health.

  2. Diagnose Liver Diseases: Abnormal results can indicate liver diseases, helping healthcare providers make accurate diagnoses and determine appropriate treatment strategies.

  3. Monitor Disease Progression: The Liver Function Panel test helps healthcare providers monitor liver disease progression, assess treatment effectiveness, and adjust management plans accordingly.

  4. Evaluate Overall Health: Abnormal liver function can affect overall health and influence treatment options for other conditions. The test results aid healthcare providers in evaluating the impact of liver dysfunction on overall patient health.

By effectively utilizing the results of a Liver Function Panel test, healthcare providers can assess liver health, diagnose liver diseases, monitor disease progression, and make informed decisions regarding patient care and treatment interventions related to liver function.

What do my Liver Panel Test results mean?

The findings of a liver panel test are not diagnostic of a specific condition; rather, they show that the liver may be malfunctioning. Abnormal liver test results in a person who has no symptoms or recognized risk factors may signal a transitory liver injury or reflect something going on elsewhere in the body, such as the skeletal muscles, pancreas, or heart. It could potentially signal the presence of early liver disease, necessitating more testing and/or periodic monitoring.

The results of liver panels are generally compared. Several sets of results from tests conducted over several days or weeks are sometimes analyzed together to see if a pattern emerges. Each person's test findings will be unique, and they will most likely alter over time. A healthcare professional examines the combined findings of liver tests to learn more about the underlying disease. Further testing is frequently required to discover the cause of the liver damage and/or illness.

Abnormal test results may signal a need to review a person's dosage or medication choice if they are taking medicines that may impact their liver. When a person with liver disease is being monitored, the healthcare provider will look at the findings of the liver panel together to see if liver function or damage is getting worse or better. Increased abnormalities in bilirubin, and/or albumin, for example, may suggest a decline in liver function, whereas steady or improved findings may indicate liver function preservation or improvement.

Most Common Questions About the Liver Function Panel test:

Basic Understanding of the Test

What is the Liver Function Panel test?

The Liver Function Panel test, also known as a Liver Function Test, is a series of blood tests that provide information about the state of a patient's liver. It measures the levels of various proteins and enzymes that the liver produces, including alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), albumin, total protein, and bilirubin.

Why is the Liver Function Panel test important?

The Liver Function Panel is important because it gives information about the health and function of the liver. It can help diagnose liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or conditions caused by medication or alcohol. It also monitors the effectiveness of treatment for these diseases and conditions.

Interpreting Results

What do the different components of the Liver Function Panel test mean?

Each component of the Liver Function Panel gives specific information about liver health:

  • ALT and AST are enzymes found in the liver. Elevated levels suggest liver damage.
  • ALP can be high in certain types of liver and bone disease.
  • Albumin and total protein indicate how well the liver is making the proteins your body needs.
  • Bilirubin levels indicate how well the liver is disposing of bilirubin, a by-product of red blood cell breakdown. High levels can cause jaundice.

What does a high ALT or AST level in the Liver Function Panel test mean?

High levels of ALT or AST can indicate liver damage or disease. The levels can be elevated in conditions like hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver injury, or liver cancer.

What does a low albumin level in the Liver Function Panel test mean?

Albumin is a protein made by the liver, and a low level can suggest liver disease or other conditions such as kidney disease, malnutrition, or severe burns.

What does a high bilirubin level in the Liver Function Panel test mean?

High bilirubin levels can indicate a problem with the liver's ability to dispose of bilirubin, often leading to conditions like jaundice. This could be due to liver diseases, bile duct blockage, or other conditions that increase the rate of red blood cell breakdown.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Who is at risk of abnormal Liver Function Panel test results?

Individuals at higher risk of abnormal Liver Function Panel results include those with a history of liver disease, a family history of liver diseases, those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol, individuals who are overweight, and those who have been exposed to hepatitis viruses.

Can the Liver Function Panel test results be influenced by medications?

Yes, certain medications can impact the test results. For example, statins, certain antibiotics, antifungal medications, and some pain relievers can cause elevated liver enzyme levels. Always provide your doctor with a complete list of medications you're taking before having a liver function test.

How can I maintain healthy liver function to ensure normal Liver Function Panel test results?

Maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, moderate alcohol intake, and avoiding illicit drugs can all contribute to healthy liver function. Regular check-ups and vaccinations for liver diseases like Hepatitis A and B arealso recommended.

How often should I have a Liver Function Panel test if I'm at risk of liver disease?

The frequency of testing depends on several factors including your health condition, family history, lifestyle, and your doctor's advice. Regular screenings may be recommended if you have chronic liver disease, are on medications known to affect the liver, or have lifestyle factors such as heavy alcohol use.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Can the Liver Function Panel test diagnose specific liver diseases?

The Liver Function Panel test can indicate if there's a problem with the liver, but it usually can't diagnose a specific condition. Other tests, medical history, and possibly a liver biopsy may be required to diagnose specific liver diseases.

What does an abnormal Liver Function Panel test mean for my overall health?

Abnormal results can indicate liver disease or damage, which can have wide-ranging effects on your overall health. The liver is crucial for digestion, nutrient absorption, drug metabolism, and toxin removal. A compromised liver can therefore lead to systemic health issues.

If my Liver Function Panel test results are abnormal, what will the next steps be?

If your Liver Function Panel results are abnormal, your doctor may order additional tests to determine the cause of the liver problem. These could include imaging tests like an ultrasound or CT scan, other blood tests, or potentially a liver biopsy.

Can treatment for liver disease improve my Liver Function Panel test results?

Yes, successful treatment of liver disease can improve your Liver Function Panel test results. It's important to have regular monitoring of your liver function if you're undergoing treatment for liver disease, to ensure the treatment is effective and adjust as necessary.

Does the Liver Function Panel test have to be repeated if the results are abnormal?

If the Liver Function Panel test results are abnormal, the test may need to be repeated to confirm the results and monitor changes over time. How soon the test should be repeated depends on the severity and nature of the abnormal results.

Pre-test Considerations

How should I prepare for the Liver Function Panel test?

You may need to fast (not eat or drink anything except water) for 10-12 hours before the test. Some medications can also affect the test results, so your doctor may advise you to stop taking certain drugs temporarily.

What factors can affect the results of the Liver Function Panel test?

Many factors can affect the test results, including certain medications, alcohol consumption, obesity, and even the level of physical activity or exercise.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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