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Blood Test: Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST, or SGOT)

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 AST?

Aspartate aminotransferase (eh-SPAR-tate uh-mee-no-TRANS-fur-ace), or AST, is an enzyme that helps the liver convert food into energy. High enzyme levels can be a sign that the liver is injured or irritated, and the enzymes are leaking out of the liver cells.

Because AST used to be called serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase, or SGOT, this is sometimes called an SGOT test.

Why Are AST Tests Done?

This test measures the level of AST in the bloodstream. Doctors might order it if a child has signs of a possible liver problem, such as jaundice (yellowish skin or eyes), dark pee, nausea, vomiting, or belly pain. It also might be done if a child is on medicine that makes high liver enzyme levels more like likely.

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the AST test, or what the test results mean, speak with your doctor.

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