Alkaline Phosphatase

Table of Contents

Alkaline phosphatases are a group of enzymes located in the outer layer of the cell membrane. Although alkaline phosphatases are present in different body tissues and have different physiochemical properties, they are isoenzymes as they catalyze the same reaction. In the liver, alkaline phosphatase is cytosolic and present in the canalicular membrane of hepatocytes. Alkaline phosphatase also appears in decreasing concentrations in the placenta, ileal mucosa, kidneys, bones, and liver, but most of the alkaline phosphatase (more than 80%) is released from the liver and bones, and in small amounts from the intestine.

In the blood, alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme that helps break down protein. Your body uses alkaline phosphatase for various processes, and alkaline phosphatase plays a very important role in liver function and bone development.

If you have mildly abnormal levels of alkaline phosphatases, you have nothing to worry about. However, if the levels of alkaline phosphatase level are very abnormal, this may indicate a certain medical condition associated with the liver, bones, or gallbladder.

Purposes of Alkaline Phosphatase Test

An alkaline phosphatase test is performed to measure the amount of alkaline phosphatase in your blood. Alkaline phosphatase can be found mostly in organs such as bones, liver, kidneys, gallbladder, and intestines. Researchers still do not agree on the basic functions of alkaline phosphatase. However, alkaline phosphatase contributes to various processes, such as:

  • Fat digestion in the intestines.
  • Removal of nutrients and other enzymes in the liver.
  • Bone formation and growth
  • Removal of fatty acids, phosphate and calcium in the intestines.
  • Regulate cell growth and death as well as its transfer during fetal development.

Who Needs an Alkaline Phosphatase Test? 

Your doctor will order routine blood tests, including an alkaline phosphatase test if you have symptoms that could indicate liver problems. This includes:

  • Frequent vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  • Frequent nausea
  • Weakness 
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Abdominal pain and swelling.
  • Weight loss with no known cause.

Your doctor may also specifically perform an alkaline phosphatase if you have medical conditions in certain organs such as the bones, gallbladder, kidneys and intestines —  affected by alkaline phosphatase.

Cost Estimation for Alkaline Phosphatase Test

The cost for an alkaline phosphatase test may vary — depending on the hospital and clinic that provides the procedure. Each hospital and clinic usually offers a variety of service packages based on your diagnostic needs as well as financial ability. 

For more details regarding the cost for an alkaline phosphatase test at home and abroad, please contact Smarter Health.

Pre-Alkaline Phosphatase Test

Before your alkaline phosphatase test, your doctor may ask you to fast for 10 to 12 hours. This test is available in most clinics, private laboratories and hospitals. The alkaline phosphatase test is similar to other medical test procedures. In general, some things you should know about the test are: 

  • You need to make an appointment with your doctor for an alkaline phosphatase procedure. You may also consult your doctor about this procedure.
  • Tell your doctor if you have sensitivity to or are allergic to any medication. Certain medications, such as birth control pills and anti-epileptic drugs, may interfere with alkaline phosphatase levels. Therefore, you should tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. 
  • Inform your doctor about your medical history and  past treatments 

If you have done an alkaline phosphatase test before at a different hospital, then you need to provide information on the test results and the time of the test to help your doctor identify your condition 

During Alkaline Phosphatase Test

An alkaline phosphatase test is nearly similar to any regular blood test. A doctor or nurse specialist will draw blood from a vein, usually elbow or on the back of the hand.

First, your doctor will clean the puncture site with an antiseptic. Next, your doctor puts a ribbon or elastic band around your arm that blocks blood flow, causing your blood vessels to slightly protrude. Then, your doctor will insert a small needle into the vein and collect your blood in a sterile bottle.

Post-Alkaline Phosphatase Test

After your blood is taken as a blood sample, your doctor will remove the elastic band around the arm and ask you to apply pressure to the puncture site with gauze. It is also possible to use tape or a bandage to hold the gauze over the puncture site. The process usually takes five to ten minutes.

Understanding Your Test Results

The level of alkaline phosphatase in healthy adults is 20-140 units per liter (U / L).

Children tend to have  higher levels of alkaline phosphatase than adults due to their on-going bone development. A person recovering from a bone injury may also have elevated alkaline phosphatase levels within 3 months after the injury.

Pregnant women also generally have alkaline phosphatase levels that are higher than normal, which occurs during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

However, everyone has slightly different levels of natural alkaline phosphatase. After doing an alkaline phosphatase test, your doctor will be able to explain what it means if the alkaline phosphatase level is higher or lower than normal

Most people with abnormal alkaline phosphatase levels have high levels, not low levels. The most common causes of abnormally high levels of phosphatase include:

  • liver conditions, frequent obstruction of the bile ducts.
  • gallbladder conditions, usually gallstones.
  • bone conditions, such as abnormal growths and sometimes cancer.

If the related symptoms provide your doctor with an accurate diagnosis, your doctor may perform further tests. These tests may include tests to determine which type of alkaline phosphatase enzyme is raised in the blood. Each part of the body makes a different type of alkaline phosphatase enzyme

Risks of Alkaline Phosphatase Test

Alkaline phosphatase test is a low-risk test, but there are a few possible complications from the blood-taking procedure: 

  • Dizziness
  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Bruising or infection at the puncture site.

An alkaline phosphatase test can help your doctor analyze the level of alkaline phosphatase in your blood — which can help your doctor identify how good your immune system is.

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