Bilirubin is a substance formed from the breakdown of red blood cells in the liver. This process is a normal function of the liver where old red blood cells are broken down and their components passed as waste or put to use in other applications in the body. Bilirubin is passed out of the body in two ways. Firstly, it forms a part of bile which is a fluid produced in the liver. Bile is used to breakdown fats during the process of digestion and is important for the completion of the digestive process as well as the elimination of digestive distress that may be caused by undigested fat. Secondly, bilirubin is expelled from the body in the urine. This is the reason that urine gets its yellow color because bilirubin is yellow in color. The level of bilirubin may be measured as a diagnostic aid to diagnose some diseases and conditions that are represented by an increased level of bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is characterized by a high bilirubin level which is why the color of the eyes and skin is yellow during the course of this condition.
A blood test for bilirubin may be conducted in order to establish the underlying cause for a particular condition. Bilirubin testing is conducted in the same way as a normal blood test. However, it is important to note that bilirubin gets broken down by light and any vial used for bilirubin testing should be darkened so that the test results are not affected by this chemical reaction. Bilirubin testing may be conducted specifically when some symptoms have occurred or when there is a routine blood test being performed. In both cases, the results are calculated against a range of results which are considered to be normal.
The results of a blood test for bilirubin will provide some important clues about the condition of the patient. An extreme rise in the level of bilirubin should be considered to be an emergency situation because it indicates serious conditions like severe liver failure, complete blockage of bile ducts, and so on. Moderately increased bilirubin levels are associated with hepatitis, drug abuse and also with chemotherapy. It should be noted that an advanced or a more serious hepatitis will cause extreme rise in the level of bilirubin. A mild rise in the level of bilirubin may be irrelevant; it can simply be caused by an increased breakdown in red blood cells.
Submitted by M T on May 21, 2010 at 04:10