Bilirubin

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Also known as: Total bilirubin; neonatal bilirubin; direct bilirubin (conjugated bilirubin); indirect bilirubin (unconjugated bilirubin)
Related tests: AST, ALT, ALP, GGT, liver function tests

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To screen for and monitor liver disorders, such as jaundice, or liver diseases, such as cirrhosis. To help detect certain rare genetic disorders in sick babies and avoid brain damage in babies that are markedly jaundiced.

When to Get Tested?

If your doctor thinks you have symptoms of liver damage or a liver disease

Sample Required?

In adults, a blood sample from a vein in the arm; in newborns, a blood sample from a heel-prick.

Test Preparation Needed?

None

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Bilirubin is an orange-yellow pigment found in bile. It is formed when haemoglobin, the red-coloured pigment of red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues, breaks down. Small amounts of bilirubin are present in blood from damaged or old red cells that have died. If bilirubin levels increase in the blood, the appearance of jaundice becomes more evident.

How is the sample collected for testing?

From blood samples. In newborns, blood is often collected from a heel-prick. For adults, blood is typically collected by needle from a vein.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.

The Test

Common Questions

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.