Contributed by – Krushna Charan
What is an alkaline phosphatase level test?
Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme that breaks down the proteins. It is found in several tissues of the body. Although the liver is the main source of alkaline phosphatase, bones, kidneys, pancreas, and intestine also have it.
An alkaline phosphatase test measures the quantity of alkaline phosphatase in your blood. Abnormal levels of alkaline phosphatase may indicate a problem with your liver, gallbladder, and bones. Some diseases like malnutrition, pancreas problems, and intestinal issues may be linked with abnormal levels of ALP.
Who should get an ALP test?
ALP test is usually performed with liver function tests. If you have any symptoms like fatigue, weakness, poor appetite, nausea or vomiting, stomach or abdominal pain, dark urine, and joint pain, then your doctor may order an ALP test. Deficiency in vitamin D can also be associated with elevated levels of alkaline phosphatase because some cases of vitamin D deficiency is diagnosed based on elevated ALP levels.
Why is the ALP test needed?
An ALP test helps in the detection of the problems associated with your liver or bone. It is often performed with the liver function test or arthritis test, which includes other blood tests. During the routine checkup, if your doctor notices any symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and joint pain then he/she may go for an ALP test.
ALP test can also detect the obstructed bile ducts because ALP is especially high in the edges of cells that join to form bile ducts. ALP test is helpful for bone problems like rickets, osteomalacia that are generally caused due to the insufficiency of vitamin D.
What does the ALP test results mean?
ALP test results are interpreted along with the liver function test or joint tests. The normal range of ALP varies from person to person and depends on your age, blood type, gender, and pregnancy. The normal range of the ALP level is 20 to 140 units per liter, but this can vary in different laboratories. Children and adolescents typically have higher blood ALP levels because their bones are in the growth stage. As a result, the ALP test must be interpreted with different reference values for children and adults.
High levels of ALP may indicate diseases like liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, and bone diseases like rickets and osteomalacia. It may also indicate liver or bone cancer and an overactive parathyroid gland whereas low levels of ALP indicate malnutrition or deficiency in some vitamins and minerals. If you are eating something or taking any kind of medicines, then you should inform your doctor before the test because this can affect the ALP level.
How is the ALP test done?
To perform this test, your doctor will need a sample of your blood. However, you don’t need to fast or prepare anything before the blood test. First, the lab technician will clean the spot on the skin with an antiseptic liquid. An elastic band will be tied on the upper arm so that it allows the blood pool in the vein. Then they insert a needle into your vein and draw a sample of blood. After taking the blood, they mark it and send the sample to the laboratory.
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