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Blood Test: Hepatic (Liver) Function Panel

Medically reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD

What Is a Blood Test?

By taking and testing a small sample of a person’s blood, doctors can check for many kinds of diseases and conditions. Blood tests help doctors check how the body’s organs are working and see if medical treatments are helpful.

To help your child get ready for a blood test, find out if they need to fast (not eat or drink) or should stop taking medicines before the test. Explain what to expect during the test. If your child is anxious about it, work together on ways to stay calm.

What Is a Hepatic (Liver) Function Panel?

A hepatic (hih-PAT-ik) function panel is a blood test that helps doctors check for liver injury, infection, or disease. It also can check for side effects in the liver from some medicines.

Why Are Liver Function Panels Done?

Doctors order a liver function panel to learn about the levels of:

  • Albumin (al-BYOO-min) and total protein: These help build and maintain muscles, bones, blood, and organ tissue. Low levels can be a sign of liver or kidney disease, or nutritional problems.
  • Liver enzymes: Alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) are enzymes that help the liver convert food into energy. High levels can be a sign that the liver is injured or irritated.
  • Bilirubin (bil-ih-ROO-ben): This pigment is made when red blood cells break down. The liver changes it so the body can excrete (get rid of) it. High bilirubin levels may be a sign of a liver problem, and also can make skin look yellow, a condition called jaundice (JON-diss).

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the liver function panel, or what the test results mean, talk to your doctor.

Medically reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: November 2022