A Liver Function Test (LFT) is done to detect, diagnose, evaluate and monitor the presence of liver disease and/or damage. There are a number of different conditions and damage that can affect the liver. Results from an LFT that are outside the normal range may or may not mean you have liver disease or damage, but since liver disease can sometimes have no symptoms, testing is vital.
How is a Liver Function Test Done?
A liver function test is done by drawing blood from your arm and analyzing it. Your doctor may require you to fast before the test and refrain from taking certain types of medication. An LFT checks the presence and levels of certain enzymes and proteins in your blood. How high or low the levels are can indicate a problem with your liver.
The SGOT Test
The SGOT (serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transminase) test, also known as an AST test, measures the amount of a protein enzyme called glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase occurring in your blood. This enzyme is normally found in the liver, heart muscles, muscles and red blood cells. When these cells sustain damage, they release this protein enzyme into your blood.
SGOT levels are measured to see how your liver, kidney, heart, pancreas, muscles and red blood cells are functioning, and whether medicines you take might pose a risk to liver function.
Normal SGOT Levels
Normal SGOT levels for most adults range from 0 to 35 units per liter. But even if your SGOT level is normal, you may still need more tests, particularly if you are being tested for hepatitis C, which can sometimes show a normal SGOT level.
High SGOT Levels
While even an SGOT that is mildly elevated is a reason for further testing, a high blood level of SGOT may indicate liver damage.
What Can Cause a High SGOT Level?
Causes for a high SGOT level can include infection, viral hepatitis, mononucleosis, gallbladder disease, the presence of toxins from drugs or alcohol and cancer. It may also indicate muscle damage from a fall or injury, or a muscle disease such as polymyositis or muscular dystrophy. And it can indicate problems with your kidneys, heart or pancreas, or a breakdown of red blood cells.
A high SGOT may also reflect certain medicines you take, including certain cholesterol-lowering drugs, anti-inflammatories, anti-fungal medications and some antibiotics (erythromycin).
Dealing with a High SGOT Level
A high SGOT level will require more tests. For proper diagnose of many liver conditions, your doctor will require a full spectrum of Liver Function Tests.