Liver Function Tests: Purpose, Procedure, and Results​

Written by Reshma Pathare on Fri, 11 November 2022 — Fact checked by Dr. Lynda Odoh - Anikwe

Key Highlights

  • The liver is responsible for detoxification, digestion, releasing blood-clotting proteins, and much more.
  • If anyone has nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark-colored urine, yellowing eye whites, skin and nails, they might be having liver dysfunction issues.
  • There are some enzymes and proteins that maintain liver function. Abnormal levels of these indicate liver damage.

Do you feel abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, mild fever, loss of appetite, dark urine color, pale stool color, skin, eyes, and nails appearing yellowish?

If any of these symptoms appear, consult your doctor about liver function tests.

These symptoms indicate you might be in the initial stages of liver disease. There are several types of liver function tests, including types of liver scans and types of liver blood tests. These tests analyze the functioning capacity of the liver based on the amounts of certain substances produced by it.

To understand liver function tests, you should first understand what the liver does.

Functions of the liver

The liver is a vital organ of the body. It is situated on the upper-right side of your abdomen under your rib cage. The liver is responsible for more than 500 important activities.

Some of the activities are mentioned below:

  • The liver helps to regulate the chemical level in the body.
  • The liver is responsible for removing all the toxins from the blood.
  • The liver involves the regulation of amino acids, which helps in the production of proteins for blood.
  • Cleaning of drugs or other harmful substances from the blood. Byproducts are excreted as bile.
  • The liver helps in the metabolism process and digesting of food.
  • The liver regulates blood clotting activity.
  • Poisonous ammonia is converted into urea in the liver.

Bile secretion is an important endpoint of liver function, and liver dysfunction affects bile production. These functions may be disrupted by various factors that damage the liver, such as viruses, alcohol consumption, and obesity.

Purpose of liver function tests

Liver function tests are blood tests and scans used to check for liver damage and measure the level of enzymes in your body.

The levels of various enzymes and proteins in your blood are a measure of your liver function. If the numbers are higher or lower than liver test normal range, then that suggests liver trouble.

The purpose of liver function test covers:

  • Diagnosis of liver illnesses, including hepatitis
  • Keeping track of liver disease treatment, as these tests can reveal how the treatment is affecting the patient
  • Examining how badly a disease like cirrhosis has destroyed or scarred the liver
  • Monitoring the negative effects of certain drugs

Common liver function tests

When you have symptoms of liver dysfunction and you visit your doctor, he or she may recommend some liver function tests.

A blood sample is usually taken from a vein in your arm. Some common liver function tests include:

  • Enzyme tests
  • Protein tests

Meaning of liver test results

The doctor will use these results to determine the proper treatment or diagnose your condition, including:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Liver cancer
  • Alcohol-induced liver damage

If someone has a liver disorder, a liver function test can help to determine the progress of the disease and the effect of medication.

No one test can examine all the aspects of liver function.

Preparing for a liver function test

A doctor will suggest that you go on an empty stomach for a liver function test.

Your doctor may ask you to avoid certain food items and medicines that can affect the results of the blood test.

You can drink water before the test.

Procedure of a liver function test

Your pathology care technician will clean your skin before giving an injection to decrease the risk of any microbial infection.

Then s/he will wrap an elastic strap on your upper arm. This will help the path lab technician to see your veins.

A tiny needle will be used to draw blood from a vein in your arm. A small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial once the needle is inserted. When the needle goes in or out, it may sting a little. After this, the technician puts a bandage on the puncture site. This normally takes under 5 minutes.

Risks of a liver function test

Your liver function test carries very little risk. You may experience a little pain or bruising where the needle was inserted, but the pain fades within about 10 minutes.


Liver function tests help assess how well your liver is working. You should seek a medical consultation and undergo test as soon as any symptoms of liver damage become evident. There are a variety of blood tests and scans that create a comprehensive picture of liver function.


Reshma Pathare

Reshma Kulkarni-Pathare has been a self-employed media professional since 1999. Starting off as a Freelance Journalist for Times of India Thane Plus, Reshma went onto write for more than 45 national and international publications including Times of India, New Woman, Femina, Indian Express, The Hindu, BBC Good Homes and many more. While her forte has been lifestyle writing, she is equally proficient in writing health articles. Her health articles have been published in Health International (Dubai), New Woman, Femina, and Mother & Baby.

Apart from being a journalist, Reshma also works as a copy-editor for self-publishing houses and academic journals.

She is an award-winning bi-lingual translator with more than 12 books published in her name.

She has been a Visiting Faculty Member for post-graduate department of mass media at MET College (Mumbai) and Welingkar WeSchool (Mumbai).

She has worked as a Consumer Marketing Insights Researcher for global organizations like CEB Iconoculture (USA) and Gartner (USA).

Consolidating her multifarious skills in the media, in 2021, Reshma launched her own boutique media agency called Talking Turkey Communications, which specializes in content writing, editing, and translation.

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