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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2009 Mar;22(3):274-83. doi: 10.1080/14767050802211929.

Liver function test and pregnancy.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Glan Clwyd Hospital, North Wales NHS Trust, Rhyl, North Wales, UK.


The physiological changes in liver function in pregnancy are commonly transient, rarely permanent. Disorders arising in pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP), haemolysis, elevated liver enzyme and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome, cholestasis, hyperemesis gravidarum and isolated cases of raised liver enzymes can have serious implications. Proper interpretation of liver function tests (LFTs) at an early stage can lead to timely management and may reduce complications in both mother and fetus. Normal LFTs do not always mean that the liver is normal. A number of pitfalls can be encountered in the interpretation of basic blood LFTs. The commonly used LFTs primarily assess liver injury rather than hepatic function. Abnormal LFTs may indicate that something is wrong with the liver, and they can provide clues to the nature of the problem but this is not always the case. The various biochemical tests, their pathophysiology, and an approach to the interpretation of abnormal LFTs are discussed in this review. Commonly available tests include alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, alkaline phosphatase, bile acid, serum bilirubin, serum albumin and prothrombin time.

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