Liver Transplant Program

Laboratory Tests for Liver Transplant Patients

Your child's blood will be drawn daily while he's in the hospital so the transplant team can monitor your child's recovery and response to medications. You may not have heard of some of these tests, but many of them may be familiar to you, because your doctor has used them to assess your child's liver disease. Here are some common tests and what they measure, along with the abbreviations commonly used for them:

Alb (albumin) - measures the liver's ability to produce protein.

Alk Phos (alkaline phosphatase) - measures bile duct function. Alkaline phosphatase is also found in bone and may be elevated during growth spurts.

ALT (alanine transaminase)/SGPT (serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase) - measures the amount of this enzyme, which the liver produces and stores.

AST (aspartate transaminase)/SGOT (serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase) - measures the amount of this enzyme, which the liver (along with other organs) produces and stores.

Bilirubin - measures bilirubin levels in the blood. When red blood cells are broken down, hemoglobin is released. The hemoglobin, in turn, is broken down into bilirubin, which the liver excretes. High bilirubin levels indicate the liver isn't functioning properly.

BUN (blood urea nitrogen) - assesses kidney function. The stomach changes protein into amino acids. The liver breaks down these amino acids into urea, which enters the blood and is excreted by the kidneys in urine.

Cr (creatinine) - assesses kidney function, but is more specific than BUN because the results are less sensitive to "outside" influences — such as food.

GGT - measures the amount of this enzyme — which the bile ducts produce — and indicates how well the bile ducts are functioning.

Hct (hematocrit) - measures the percentage of red blood cells circulating in the blood.

Hgb (hemoglobin) - measures the level of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to other tissues.

K+ (potassium) - measures this electrolyte, which plays an important role in muscle contractions.

Na (sodium) - measures this electrolyte, which, when present, means there's a balance between sodium (salt) intake and excretion by the kidneys.

Plt (platelets) - measures this blood component, which aids clotting.

PT/PTT/INR (prothrombin time/partial thromboblastin time) - measures how long your child's blood takes to clot.

TP (total protein) - helps assess liver function by measuring the amount of albumin (made in the liver) and globulin (made in other organs) in the blood.

WBC (white blood cell) - measures the level of these cells — which fight infection and react against foreign substances in the body — in the bloodstream.

Learn more about what to expect after liver transplant surgery:
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

Reviewed by: Cathleen Goodsell, RN, MSN, CRNP
Date: March 2005

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