HomeGeneral MedicineEverything You Need to Know About Bilirubin Blood Test

Everything You Need to Know About Bilirubin Blood Test

A bilirubin blood test is used to measure the level of bilirubin in the blood.  The substance bilirubin is yellow in color and is made when the red blood cells break down. Bilirubin passes through the liver and is eventually excreted out of the body.

Higher than normal levels of bilirubin may indicate different types of liver or bile duct problems. Occasionally, higher bilirubin levels may be caused by an increased rate of destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis).

Bilirubin is a pigment present in bile, a fluid produced by the liver that aids digestion. 

What is the use of a bilirubin blood test? 

One of the tests to determine optimal liver function is the bilirubin blood test. It is also used to diagnose jaundice in newborns. Infants jaundice is usually harmless and resolves within a few weeks. 

Because of the higher creation and faster breakdown of red blood cells in the first few days of life, newborns produce more bilirubin than adults. Bilirubin is normally filtered from the bloodstream and released into the intestine by the liver. The immature liver of a baby is typically unable to eliminate bilirubin quickly enough, resulting in an excess of bilirubin. Physiologic jaundice is a type of jaundice that arises on the second or third day of life.

Why does one need a bilirubin blood test? 

A surgeon recommends a bilirubin blood test during the following symptoms or conditions: 

  • To investigate jaundice . If the individual has symptoms like yellowing of eyes and skin , dark urine and stomach pain. A common use of this test is to measure bilirubin levels in newborns to check for infant jaundice.
  • To see if the structures that transport bile from your liver are blocked. 
  • To keep an eye on a condition or illness of the liver that already exists. 
  • Help evaluate anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells..
  • Help follow how a treatment is working.
  • Help evaluate a suspected drug toxicity.

What happens during a bilirubin blood test? 

A tiny needle will be used to obtain a blood sample from a vein in the arm. The blood sample is collected in a test tube. When the needle moves inward and outward, it may cause a stinging sensation. It normally takes less than five minutes to perform the test. 

How does one need to prepare themselves for the blood test? 

A bilirubin blood test does not require any particular preparation. The patient may need to fast (not eat or drink) for many hours before the test . If there are any special instructions to follow, the health care practitioner will inform. 

What are the risks involved in a bilirubin blood test? 

Having the blood drawn carries very little danger. It may be more difficult to obtain a blood sample from some persons than from others. 

The risks of having blood drawn are minor, however, they can include: 

  • Excessive bleeding  
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded 
  • Several punctures are needed  to find the vein. 
  • Hematoma is a type of hemorrhage (blood collecting under the skin) 
  • Infection  

What do you need to know about the results of the test? 

Normal Level: 

  1. Direct bilirubin: less than 0.3 mg/dL (less than 5.1 µmol/L) 
  2. Total bilirubin: 0.1 to 1.2 mg/dL (1.71 to 20.5 µmol/L) 

Abnormal Results of Bilirubin Blood Test 

For the first few days of life, bilirubin levels are higher in neonates. When determining whether the baby’s bilirubin level is too high, the doctor must consider the following factors: 

  • If the child was premature 
  • The age of the child 

When more red blood cells are broken down than normal, jaundice might develop. This can be brought on by: 

  • Erythroblastosis fetalis 
  • Hemolytic anemia 
  • The immune system of a person destroys red blood cells that were given in a transfusion during a transfusion reaction. 

High bilirubin level can also be caused by the following liver problems: 

  • Hepatitis scarring (cirrhosis
  • The liver is swollen and inflamed (hepatitis) 
  • Other types of liver disease 
  • Gilbert disease – A condition in which the liver lacks one of the enzymes to handle bilirubin properly  

Bilirubin Blood Test: Higher bilirubin levels can be caused by the following gallbladder or bile duct problems:

What are the other things a patient needs to know about the bilirubin blood tests? 

A bilirubin blood test is merely one indicator of how healthy the liver is. Other tests may be recommended if the doctor suspects that the individual has a liver condition or a red blood cell issue. These include liver function tests, which are a collection of tests that assess various compounds in the blood, as well as tests for specific proteins produced by the liver. The doctor may also suggest urine tests, an ultrasound, or a biopsy to obtain a sample of tissue from the liver to evaluate further.

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