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Alt

Alt

Alternate Names

  • SGPT
  • serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase
  • alanine transaminase

Definition

ALT is a blood test that determines the level of the enzyme alanine transaminase (ALT) in the blood.

Who is a candidate for the test?

ALT is present in many different kinds of tissue in the body. However, it is highly concentrated in the liver. Therefore, when the liver is injured, ALT is released into the bloodstream.
An ALT test may be ordered when the healthcare professional suspects liver disease or other damage to the liver.

How is the test performed?

A blood sample needs to be taken in order to measure the level of ALT. The blood is usually drawn from a vein in the forearm or the hand. First, the skin over the vein is cleaned with an antiseptic. Next, a strong rubber tube called a tourniquet is wrapped around the upper arm. This enlarges the veins in the lower arm by restricting blood flow through them. A very thin needle is gently inserted into a vein, and the tourniquet is removed. Blood flows from the vein through the needle and is collected in a syringe or vial. The sample is sent to the lab to be analyzed. After the needle is withdrawn, the puncture site is covered for a short time to prevent bleeding.

What is involved in preparation for the test?

Generally, no preparation is needed for an ALT blood test.

What do the test results mean?

Normally, ALT levels range from 6 to 59 units per liter (U/L). Elevated levels of ALT may indicate one of the following conditions:
  • alcoholic liver disease
  • cancer of the liver
  • cholestasis, congestion of the bile ducts
  • cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver with loss of function
  • death of liver tissue
  • hepatitis, inflammation of the liver
  • a non-malignant liver tumor
  • use of medicines or drugs toxic to the liver

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