The ALT or alanine aminotransferase serum test is also called the Serum Glutamic Pyruvic Transaminase or SGPT test. This test is used in conjunction with the Aspartate Transaminase test to judge whether someone is suffering from liver damage. The Aspartate Transaminase test is also known as the SGOT test for Serum Glutamic Oxaloacetic Transaminase. The two test results are combined in ratio, which is usually a good indication of whether someone is suffering from alcohol induced liver damage or viral hepatitis.
The alanine aminotransferase serum test is required when a patient comes into the doctor for jaundice. If the doctor is usually not familiar with the patient's prior medical history, the first test that will be conduct is the SGPT and SGOT tests. The SGPT tests are not very conclusive because the levels of alanine shoot up and down during the day according to activity levels. When combined with the SGOT test, however, it is good indicator of liver damage and hepatitis.
There is no specific preparation that needs to be done for the test apart from ensuring that you are not on any drugs that would affect the liver like silymarin. If you should ever experience urine that is so dark that it is brown and yellow eyes along with a fatigued and restless feeling, you should immediately get these tests done for SGPT and SGOT. There is a distinct possibility if you are a heavy drinker that you have damaged your liver irreparably or that you have a contaminated water source in the area.
The SGOT/SGPT tests are conducted after extracting a sample of blood. Urine tests for bilirubin and serum bilirubin are also checked. In case of alcohol induced liver damage, there is a distinct possibility that cirrhosis might result. This is a chronic condition that occurs with the liver tissue dying and forming fibrous scar tissue. This scar tissue does no function and therefore indicates permanent liver damage. Note that viral hepatitis B and C can also cause cirrhosis. An ELISA test is sometimes warranted to confirm the presence of the virus in the liver. An SGOT:SGPT ratio above 2 is an indication of alcohol based damage and below 1 indicates the viral hepatitis. Hepatitis can be prevented by vaccination; however, it is best to ensure the cleanliness of all water and food samples. Never drink water from a source that could be contaminated with feces and even ice can be a possible source of contamination.