Liver function tests, also commonly referred to as LFTs, include a variety of clinical biochemistry laboratory blood assays meant to provide information pertaining to the condition of the liver of the patient. In most cases of liver disease the symptoms are only very mild to begin with, but prompt detection of these conditions is absolutely essential. It should be pointed out that involvement of the hepatitis virus in some of these conditions is of great importance. The GGT or gamma-glutamyl transferase liver function test is one such important test as it helps evaluate liver function quite efficiently.
GGT liver function tests are almost never conducted in isolation and it is most likely that the test is conducted in conjunction with other tests like the ALT, ALP, AST or bilirubin tests. It may also be conducted as a follow up to these tests. GGT levels help detect and identify possible causes of elevated alkaline phosphate or ALP, which would be found in an ALP test. Both readings show as elevated in the case of diseases of the bile duct and some diseases of the liver, but if the problem stems from a bone disease, there will be no elevation of GGT levels. So, in the case of a patient showing elevated ALP levels but normal GGT levels it helps point towards bone disease by ruling out bile duct or liver disease.
Although GGT tests showing increased GGT levels do indicated liver damage they do not really point to or reveal the condition that is responsible. Another important factor is that although elevated GGT levels are indicative of liver disease they can also be brought about by alcohol consumption, certain drugs, or even conditions like congestive heart failure. Another use of the test stems from this ability. It is at times used as a monitoring tool for alcohol use or abuse in individuals being treated for either alcoholism or even alcoholic hepatitis.
Keep in mind that if you're going in for a GGT test you need to keep off alcohol as even small amounts of alcohol consumed within twenty four hours of the test can bring about a temporary spike in levels. If this does occur your doctor will probably ask for a repeat of the test. Do keep in mind that certain drugs can also cause the test to show elevated levels, so inform your doctor of any medications you may be on. Smoking also causes an increase in GGT levels.
Submitted by M T on May 10, 2010 at 01:33