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ALP - blood test

Alkaline phosphatase

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is a protein found in all body tissues. Tissues with higher amounts of ALP include the liver, bile ducts, and bone.

A blood test can be done to measure the level of ALP.

A related test is the ALP isoenzyme test.

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

How to Prepare for the Test

You should not to eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the test, unless your health care provider tells you otherwise.

Many medicines can interfere with blood test results.

  • Your provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test.
  • DO NOT stop or change your medicines without talking to your provider first.

How the Test will Feel

You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted. You may also feel some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn.

Why the Test is Performed

This test may be done:

  • To diagnose liver or bone disease
  • To check, if treatments for those diseases are working
  • As part of a routine liver function test

Normal Results

The normal range is 44 to 147 international units per liter (IU/L) or 0.73 to 2.45 microkatal per liter (µkat/L).

Normal values may vary slightly from laboratory to laboratory. They also can vary with age and gender. High levels of ALP are normally seen in children undergoing growth spurts and in pregnant women.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to the following conditions:

Higher-than-normal ALP levels

Lower-than-normal ALP levels

  • Hypophosphatasia
  • Malnutrition
  • Protein deficiency
  • Wilson disease

Other conditions for which the test may be done:

References

Berk PD, Korenblat KM. Approach to the patient with jaundice or abnormal liver tests. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 147.

Fogel EL, Sherman S. Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 155.

Martin P. Approach to the patient with liver disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 146.

Pincus MR, Abraham NZ. Interpreting laboratory results. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 8.

Review Date: 4/29/2019

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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