Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease Website Course

Evaluating Liver Test Abnormalities

Understanding the Pathophysiology of Liver Disease

for Health Care Providers

Liver Chemistry Tests

Providers often use the term liver function tests (LFTs) to denote tests that reflect liver function. However, not all the LFTs assess for the function of the liver and some (like the ALT) may be normal with advanced liver disease. The patterns seen with a combination of these tests help us pinpoint the source of the damage and lead to an appropriate diagnosis.

  • Tests that reflect liver inflammation or injury (ALT/AST, Alk Phos/GGT, 5'Nucleotidase)
  • Synthetic liver function tests (Albumin, PT/INR). In addition to synthetic function tests, it's important to also look for low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) which is often present in patients with advanced liver disease. (70% of patients with cirrhosis have a platelet count < 150K)
  • Tests that reflect liver injury and/or liver function (bilirubin)