A liver function blood test involves collecting a blood sample from a patient for analysis in the lab. Doctors order blood tests to check for different parameters in the body, such as white blood cells, glucose and haemoglobin.
The results of these blood tests can help your doctor detect problems such as a medical condition or disease. In some cases, blood testing is necessary to check the integrity of an organ like the kidney or liver.
What is a liver function panel?
A liver function panel is a blood test used by doctors to check the liver for disease, infection or injury. This test also checks the liver for side effects from certain medications.
Why do you need a liver function panel?
A liver function panel is necessary to get information on the levels of the following.
- Total protein and albumin
These blood components help maintain and build bones, organ tissues and muscles in the body. Low levels may be linked with nutritional problems liver or kidney disease.
- Liver enzymes: Alkaline phosphatase (ALP), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
These liver enzymes help in metabolising food into energy. High levels of the liver enzymes above may indicate liver irritation or injury.
Bilirubin is gotten from the breakdown of the red blood cells, and the liver converts it to expellable forms from the body. High levels of bilirubin in the blood may indicate a liver problem. This may cause yellowing of the skin, a condition known as jaundice.
How do I prepare for my liver function panel?
Your doctor may advise you to avoid eating for 8 – 12 hours before your test. If you are on any medication, inform your doctor because some medications can affect your result.
On the test day, you can wear a T-shirt or any short-sleeved clothing to make the blood sample draw easier and faster.
What is the procedure for a liver function panel?
Like other blood tests, the liver function panel requires taking a small amount of blood from your vein. For the blood collection, the health care professional will do the following.
- Clean the skin area around the point for your blood collection
- Place a tourniquet above the area for your blood draw to make your veins more visible
- Insert a needle in your vein, usually in the crook of your elbow or on the back of your hand
- Draw your blood sample into a syringe or vial
- Remove the elastic band, then the needle from your vein
During the blood collection, try to stay in one position and relax as this prevent tensing your muscles and makes the blood draw harder and more painful. You can look the other side if you feel uncomfortable seeing the provider insert a needle in your vein or do something to shift your attention from the process. Listening to music, taking deep breaths or counting numbers backwards can make you feel relaxed.
How long does the liver function panel take?
Most blood tests, including a liver function panel, take only a few minutes. However, when the vein is hard to find, the healthcare professional may insert the needle more than once.
What happens afterwards?
Your healthcare provider will remove the tourniquet and needle, then cover the area with a bandage or cotton to stop bleeding. You may feel mild bruising or swelling, but it will subside in a few days.
When will the result be available?
A machine will process your blood sample, which may take a couple of hours to one day. If your result has an abnormal reading, your doctor may order other tests to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis for the right treatment.
Does the liver function panel have any risks?
The liver function panel procedure is safe with minimal risks. After the test, some people feel lightheaded or faint. If you feel anxious about your blood draw, talk to your doctor about it.
Common side effects following a liver function panel are mild soreness and small bruising, which can last for some days. If these side effects become severe, inform your doctor.
You can visit Private Blood Tests London today for your liver function panel or call us on 020 7183 0244 to book an appointment.