If you show symptoms of gallbladder pain, the doctor may order blood tests. These tests can help determine if your symptoms are caused by gallbladder disease or something else. What is checked in blood tests for gallbladder disease?
Pain in the upper right area of the abdomen close to the rib cage can be caused by the gallbladder or other conditions such as pancreatitis, appendicitis, pneumonia, many stomach disorders, kidney and urinary tract problems or heart attack or other conditions. That is why further testing, including blood tests, may be required for the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.
The blood used for the different tests is usually collected at the same time, so you should only have to be stuck once with a needle while various tubes are filled for each of the specific tests. Your doctor may order other tests as needed.
Blood Tests for Gallbladder Disease: Liver Function and Liver Enzymes. Higher levels of certain enzymes can show that there is a possibility of gallbladder disease which will need to be followed with further testing. Even if levels are normal, if the doctor suspects gallbladder disease, more testing will be needed.
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). ALT and AST are enzymes that help make protein. High levels of ALT or AST may indicate a blockage in one of the bile ducts leading from the liver or gallbladder. High levels of these enzymes may also be caused by other liver problems. High levels of AST may also point to problems with skeletal muscles or the heart.
Gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). GGT helps carry oxygen to cells and ALP breaks down phosphorus and carries energy to cells. High levels of these enzymes can indicate a blockage in the gallbladder or bile ducts. They may also be caused by liver problems. High levels of ALP may point to bone problems, heart disease or problems with the kidneys or thyroid.
Bilirubin. Bilirubin is a colored by-product of the breakdown of red blood cells in the liver. A build up can cause jaundice, or yellowing of the skin. Although this can be caused by blockage in the gallbladder or bile ducts, it is more often associated with liver disease such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.
Blood Tests for Gallbladder Disease: Full Blood Count. High levels of white blood cells can show that there is an infection in the body. It doesn’t prove gallbladder disease, but can help the doctor narrow down the options for further testing.
Blood Tests for Gallbladder Disease: Amylase. Amylase is an enzyme produced in saliva and in the pancreas that breaks down starch into sugar. Amylase levels will generally be in the normal range for gallbladder disease, but higher for pancreatitis. This test can help rule out or confirm that symptoms are caused by pancreatitis rather than gallbladder disease.
Limits of Blood Tests for Gallbladder Disease. It is important to note that blood tests can’t detect gallstones. They can detect abnormal levels of certain enzymes and blood components. Blood tests are mostly used to rule out other conditions and to see if further testing is necessary. Blood tests may not detect gallbladder disease if it is mild or at beginning stages.
Whether or not the blood tests fro gallbladder disease show anything, other tests may be needed to make a diagnosis. Blood tests are used together with other testing methods to provide a more accurate diagnosis of gallbladder disease.
THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND SHOULD NOT REPLACE THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN.
University of Maryland Medical Center; Gallstone and Gallbladder Disease – Diagnosis
AIDS Treatment Data Network: Liver Function Tests
Cleveland Clinic; Acute Pancreatitis