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Liver Function Tests (Liver panels)

Blood tests that can show elevated levels of liver enzymes, which may indicate problems in the liver or biliary tract. Also called liver enzyme tests. NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Accuracy of liver function tests for predicting adverse maternal and fetal outcomes in women with preeclampsia: a systematic review

BACKGROUND: Liver function tests are routinely performed in women as part of a battery of investigations to assess severity at admission and later to guide appropriate management.

Antipsychotics and abnormal liver function tests: systematic review

The review concluded that liver function test abnormalities in patients receiving regular antipsychotics are common but generally mild and transient and that most of the research was of poor quality. The review had some methodological and reporting limitations that make the reliability of the authors' conclusions uncertain.

Ultrasound and liver function tests for the diagnosis of common bile duct stones

Bile, produced in the liver and stored temporarily in the gallbladder, is released into the small bowel on eating fatty food. The common bile duct is the tube through which bile flows from the gallbladder to the small bowel. Stones in the common bile duct (common bile duct stones), usually formed in the gallbladder before migration into the bile duct, can obstruct the flow of bile leading to jaundice (yellowish discolouration of skin, white of the eyes, and dark urine); infection of the bile (cholangitis); and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can be life threatening. Various diagnostic tests can be performed for the diagnosis of common bile duct stones. Depending upon the availability of resources, these stones are removed endoscopically (usually the case) or may be removed as a part of the operation performed to remove the gallbladder (it is important to remove the gallbladder since the stones continue to form in the gallbladder and can cause recurrent problems). Non‐invasive tests such as ultrasound (use of sound waves higher than audible range to differentiate tissues based on how they reflect the sound waves) and blood markers of bile flow obstruction such as serum bilirubin and serum alkaline phosphatase are used to identify people at high risk of having common bile duct stones. Using non‐invasive tests means that only those people at high risk can be subjected to further tests. We reviewed the evidence on the accuracy of ultrasound and liver function tests for detection of common bile duct stones. The evidence is current to September 2012.

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Summaries for consumers

Ultrasound and liver function tests for the diagnosis of common bile duct stones

Bile, produced in the liver and stored temporarily in the gallbladder, is released into the small bowel on eating fatty food. The common bile duct is the tube through which bile flows from the gallbladder to the small bowel. Stones in the common bile duct (common bile duct stones), usually formed in the gallbladder before migration into the bile duct, can obstruct the flow of bile leading to jaundice (yellowish discolouration of skin, white of the eyes, and dark urine); infection of the bile (cholangitis); and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can be life threatening. Various diagnostic tests can be performed for the diagnosis of common bile duct stones. Depending upon the availability of resources, these stones are removed endoscopically (usually the case) or may be removed as a part of the operation performed to remove the gallbladder (it is important to remove the gallbladder since the stones continue to form in the gallbladder and can cause recurrent problems). Non‐invasive tests such as ultrasound (use of sound waves higher than audible range to differentiate tissues based on how they reflect the sound waves) and blood markers of bile flow obstruction such as serum bilirubin and serum alkaline phosphatase are used to identify people at high risk of having common bile duct stones. Using non‐invasive tests means that only those people at high risk can be subjected to further tests. We reviewed the evidence on the accuracy of ultrasound and liver function tests for detection of common bile duct stones. The evidence is current to September 2012.

No evidence to support or refute probiotics for patients with non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease and/or steatohepatitis

Probiotics have been proposed as a treatment option for patients with non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease and non‐alcoholic steatohepatitis because of their balancing role on the flora of the gut that may act as a potential source of hepatotoxic oxidative injury. This review did not identify any randomised clinical trials with probiotics in non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease and non‐alcoholic steatohepatitis. Even if the results from pilot studies seem promising, randomised clinical trials are necessary to asses the clinical implication of probiotics therapy in non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease and non‐alcoholic steatohepatitis.

No evidence to support or refute the effect of bile acids in patients with non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease and/or steatohepatitis

Non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition characterised by fatty deposition in the hepatocytes in patients with minimal or no alcohol intake. Hepatic injury might be improved by bile acids. This systematic review identified four randomised clinical trials. Bile acids did not cause any liver‐related deaths and were associated with only minor, non‐specific adverse events. However, these agents did not show any significant amelioration of common liver function tests as compared with placebo. Moreover, data on the radiological (ultrasonography and computer tomography scan) and/or histological response were too limited to draw any conclusions. Further randomised placebo‐controlled trials are necessary.

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More about Liver Function Tests

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Also called: Liver enzyme tests, Hepatic function panels

See Also: Blood Tests, Serum Albumin Test, Comprehensive Metabolic Panels

Other terms to know:
Biliary Tract, Enzymes

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