Liver Panel

What is a Liver Panel?

A liver panel is a group of tests that are performed together to detect, evaluate, and monitor liver disease or damage.

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body and is located in the upper right-hand part of the abdomen and behind the lower ribs. The liver metabolizes and detoxifies drugs and substances that are harmful to the body. It produces blood clotting factors, proteins, and enzymes, helps maintain hormone balances, and stores vitamins and minerals. Bile, a fluid produced by the liver, is transported through ducts directly to the small intestine to help digest fats or to the gallbladder to be stored and concentrated for later use.

A variety of diseases and infections can cause acute or chronic damage to the liver, causing inflammation (hepatitis), scarring (cirrhosis), bile duct obstructions, liver tumors, and liver dysfunction. Alcohol, drugs, some herbal supplements, and toxins can also pose a threat. A significant amount of liver damage may be present before symptoms such as jaundice, dark urine, light-colored stools, itching (pruritus), nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, and unexplained weight loss or gain emerge. Early detection is essential in order to minimize damage and preserve liver function.

The liver panel measures enzymes, proteins, and substances that are produced, processed or eliminated by the liver and are affected by liver injury. Some are released by damaged liver cells and some reflect a decrease in the liver’s ability to perform one or more of its functions. When performed together, these tests give a healthcare practitioner a snapshot of the health of a person’s liver, an indication of the potential severity of any liver injury, change in liver status over time, and a starting place for further diagnostic testing.

Testing

How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm. For infants, blood may be drawn by puncturing the heel with a lancet.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
Some of the tests that may be included in the panel may require fasting overnight with only water permitted.