bilirubin test



A popular medical test measures blood bilirubin levels. Red blood cell breakdown produces yellow bilirubin. Bile excretes it after liver processing.

Bilirubin elevations may suggest liver, gallbladder, and blood diseases. The test detects and tracks jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hemolytic anaemia.

The bilirubin test is easy and standard in a lab or hospital. It requires a tiny blood sample from an arm vein. Labs analyse blood samples.

The test measures direct and indirect (unconjugated) bilirubin. Direct bilirubin has been digested by the liver and discharged into the bile, but indirect has not.

Total bilirubin—the sum of indirect and direct bilirubin—is usually provided for bilirubin tests. Adults have total bilirubin levels < 1.2 mg/dL.

Bilirubin abnormalities may suggest liver disease or other disorders. However, increased bilirubin levels just indicate a need for additional examination.

Finally, the bilirubin test may diagnose liver, gallbladder, and blood diseases. It helps doctors assess liver function and monitor numerous disorders. The test helps diagnose and treat patients by assessing bilirubin levels.


Bilirubin tests evaluate blood levels. This test checks:

Diagnose and monitor liver disorders: High bilirubin levels may suggest hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver damage from alcohol or drugs. The test assesses liver function and disease progression.

Assess gallbladder function: The bilirubin test may detect bile duct blockages caused by gallstones or other disorders. Abnormal bilirubin levels may suggest liver-to-intestine bile flow issues.

Assess jaundice: High bilirubin levels cause skin and ocular yellowing. The test determines the cause of jaundice, which might be liver disease or hemolytic anaemia.

Red blood cell breakdown produces bilirubin. Hemolytic anaemia increases red blood cell breakdown and bilirubin levels. Bilirubin tests assist control these disorders.

Healthcare providers use bilirubin test findings to determine treatment methods. It helps them evaluate liver or gallbladder diseases, check drug efficacy, and decide on further diagnostic tests or operations.

Bilirubin tests help diagnose, monitor, and treat liver, gallbladder, and blood problems. It evaluates liver function and helps doctors treat patients.


Bilirubin testing is simple:

Preparation: To get reliable results, the doctor may have you fast overnight before the test. Follow your doctor’s orders.

The test involves a little blood sample from a vein in your arm. After disinfecting the spot, the healthcare professional will inject a needle into the vein to draw blood. Needle insertion may pain or prick.

Blood sample processing: The healthcare professional removes the needle and applies pressure to the puncture site to halt bleeding. Labelled tubes hold the blood samples.

Laboratories analyse blood samples. Laboratory equipment measures bilirubin levels. Direct (conjugated) and indirect (unconjugated) bilirubin levels may be measured.

Results: Total bilirubin levels, including direct and indirect, are given after laboratory analysis. Results are generally given in mg/dL.

The test’s technique may differ based on the healthcare provider or lab. Follow your doctor’s instructions and ask questions before, during, and after the surgery.


Bilirubin-induced jaundice causes skin and ocular yellowing. Bilirubin tests are used to diagnose liver, gallbladder, and blood abnormalities in jaundice patients.

Liver disorders: Bilirubin tests help diagnose and assess liver function. It detects hepatitis, cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease, drug-induced liver injury, and other liver damage.

Gallbladder problems, particularly bile duct blockage, may alter bilirubin levels. The test detects gallstones, gallbladder disease, and biliary blockage.

Suspected blood problems: The bilirubin test helps diagnose blood abnormalities, especially those that break down red blood cells. Due to red blood cell breakdown, hemolytic anaemias including sickle cell anaemia and hereditary spherocytosis may raise bilirubin levels.

Bilirubin tests can track liver and gallbladder problems and evaluate therapy. It helps doctors evaluate liver-improving medicines, therapies, and lifestyle modifications.

Bilirubin tests may be part of regular health checks or preventative screenings. It detects liver or gallbladder diseases early, even without symptoms, enabling prompt treatment.

Healthcare providers base bilirubin testing on the patient’s medical history, symptoms, physical exam, and other considerations. Consult a doctor to discover whether the bilirubin test is right for you.


Bilirubin tests assess two types:

Indirect Bilirubin (Unconjugated Bilirubin): The liver has not metabolised indirect bilirubin. Bilirubin is released when red blood cells break down. Blood albumin binds indirect bilirubin, which is insoluble in water. The liver processes it.

Direct Bilirubin: Liver-processed bilirubin. Indirect bilirubin is conjugated with glucuronic acid in the liver, making it water-soluble and simpler to excrete. Direct bilirubin is discharged into the bile ducts and intestines, where it is removed via faeces.

The bilirubin test may also report “Total Bilirubin,” which includes indirect and direct bilirubin levels.

Indirect and direct bilirubin levels reveal liver function and bilirubin metabolism. Abnormal bilirubin levels may help doctors diagnose and treat liver, gallbladder, and blood diseases.


Bilirubin tests are usually harmless. As with any blood-collection operation, there are certain risks:

pain or bruising: The needle insertion site may hurt or cause brief pain during the blood draw. The puncture site can bruise or bleed after the surgery. Pressing the spot after the blood sample reduces these dangers.

Puncture site infection is uncommon but possible. Blood collection is done in a sterile setting using sterile equipment to reduce infection risk.

Fainting or dizziness: Some people faint during or after the blood draw. If you faint or become dizzy during blood draws, tell the doctor. They can protect and soothe you.

Rare complications: Extreme bleeding, nerve damage, or bloodstream infection (septicemia) may occur. These issues are rare.

The bilirubin test’s dangers are usually low compared to its diagnostic advantages. The process usually goes well. Before the test, talk to your doctor about any concerns regarding risks or problems.


Bilirubin tests show total bilirubin, which comprises indirect (unconjugated) and direct (conjugated) bilirubin. Results are quantified in mg/dL or μmol/L.

Laboratory and testing procedure affect total bilirubin reference ranges. Total bilirubin in adults is usually below 1.2 mg/dL (or 20.5 μmol/L).

Clinical environment, additional symptoms, and medical history might affect findings interpretation. Bilirubin test interpretations:

Normal range: Total bilirubin levels within the normal reference range indicate normal liver function and no severe liver or gallbladder diseases causing bilirubin buildup.

Elevated total bilirubin levels may suggest a range of diseases, including:

Hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver injury cause elevated bilirubin.

Gallstones and gallbladder inflammation may cause bilirubin levels to rise.

Hemolytic anaemias: Red blood cell breakdown increases bilirubin levels.

Direct and indirect bilirubin levels might reveal the reason of bilirubin increase. Indirect bilirubin may indicate red blood cell disintegration, whereas direct bilirubin may signal liver or bile duct issues.

The bilirubin test needs clinical correlation and other parameters to interpret. Abnormal bilirubin levels suggest additional medical assessment but do not diagnose.


In conclusion, the bilirubin test helps diagnose liver, gallbladder, and blood diseases. Total bilirubin, including indirect and direct, is measured.

Depending on the lab, normal total bilirubin levels are below 1.2 mg/dL or 20.5 μmol/L. Liver, gallbladder, and hemolytic anaemia may cause elevated bilirubin. Test findings and other clinical data help doctors diagnose, track, and treat patients.

Abnormal bilirubin levels do not diagnose. To diagnose the reason and create a complete treatment plan, more testing and a medical examination are typically needed.

If you have questions about your bilirubin test results, go to a doctor.


What raises bilirubin?
A: Hepatitis, cirrhosis, gallstones, hemolytic anaemias, and medication-induced liver damage may raise bilirubin levels. However, a medical expert should evaluate and diagnose.

Q: Do supplements or drugs alter bilirubin?
A: Some drugs and supplements alter bilirubin levels. Antibiotics, antivirals, and chemotherapy may affect liver function and bilirubin metabolism. To ensure accurate bilirubin test results, tell your doctor about any drugs or supplements you use.

How does bilirubin affect jaundice?
A: Bilirubin-induced jaundice causes skin and ocular yellowing. Bilirubin accumulation might result from liver inefficiency or bile duct occlusion. Liver, gallbladder, and blood issues may cause jaundice.

High bilirubin symptoms?
A: High bilirubin levels cause jaundice, dark urine, pale faeces, lethargy, stomach discomfort, nausea, and lack of appetite. Symptoms depend on the cause and the person. Accurate diagnosis requires medical consultation.

Q: Can bilirubin detect liver cancer?
A: Bilirubin alone cannot identify liver cancer. Liver malignancy may raise bilirubin levels owing to liver dysfunction or bile duct blockage. Liver cancer diagnosis and staging usually need imaging procedures (e.g., ultrasound, CT scan, MRI) and liver function tests.

How frequently should bilirubin be tested?
A: Medical condition and healthcare practitioner recommendations determine bilirubin testing frequency. The test may be done routinely to evaluate liver function and therapy efficacy in those with liver or gallbladder diseases. Bilirubin testing may be part of preventative exams. Discuss time and frequency with a doctor.

myth vs fact

Myth: High bilirubin always indicates liver illness.
Fact: High bilirubin levels may be caused by gallbladder issues, hemolytic anaemia, or liver illness. The reason of elevated bilirubin levels must be determined.

Myth: Only elderly persons have high bilirubin levels.
Fact: Anyone can have high bilirubin. Liver, gallbladder, and blood diseases may raise bilirubin levels regardless of age.

Myth: Diet doesn’t affect bilirubin.
Fact: Diet may indirectly alter bilirubin metabolism by affecting liver health. A balanced diet, moderate alcohol intake, and a healthy lifestyle may promote liver function.

Myth: Low bilirubin always indicates excellent liver function.
Fact: Low bilirubin levels are typical and may suggest good liver function, but they do not give a complete liver health evaluation. To effectively determine liver health, other tests may be needed.

Myth: Bilirubin tests hurt.
Bilirubin testing are straightforward and non-invasive. Routine blood draws may cause slight pain or stinging. Safe and well-tolerated.

Myth: Skin colour properly assesses bilirubin levels.
Fact: Skin colour, especially jaundice, might indicate high bilirubin levels. Lab testing is needed to determine bilirubin levels.

Accurate information and medical advice are needed to comprehend and interpret bilirubin levels and associated disorders.

terms :

Bilirubin: A yellow pigment secreted in bile from red blood cell disintegration.

Jaundice: Bilirubin-induced skin, eye, and tissue yellowing.

Liver: Produces bile, filters pollutants, and metabolises nutrients.

Gallbladder: A tiny organ that collects liver bile.

Bile: Liver-produced and gallbladder-stored digestive fluid that breaks down lipids in the small intestine.

Hepatitis: Liver inflammation from viruses, alcohol, or autoimmune illnesses.

Cirrhosis: Liver scarring from chronic liver disease that impairs liver function.

Hemolysis: Red blood cell disintegration produces bilirubin.

Anaemia: Low red blood cell or haemoglobin counts diminish oxygen-carrying ability.

Direct Bilirubin: Water-soluble liver-conjugated bilirubin.

Indirect Bilirubin: Albumin-bound unconjugated bilirubin.

Total Bilirubin: Direct and indirect bilirubin levels.

Biliary Obstruction: Bile duct blockage may increase bilirubin levels.

Gallstones or infection induce cholecystitis, gallbladder inflammation.

Alcoholic Liver Disease: Alcohol abuse damages the liver, impairing its function.

Gilbert Syndrome: A common, benign hereditary disorder that causes modestly increased bilirubin levels.

Neonatal jaundice: Jaundice in newborns caused by liver immaturity and red blood cell disintegration.

Liver Function Tests: Blood tests that evaluate liver health and bilirubin levels.

Hemolytic Anaemia: High bilirubin due to red blood cell breakdown.

Phototherapy: Breaking down skin bilirubin using specific lights to cure infant jaundice.

Ascites: Abnormal abdominal fluid buildup linked with severe liver disease.

Cholestasis: Bilirubin elevation and jaundice due to bile flow impairment.

Laboratory testing uses serum, the clear, yellowish fluid left after blood clots.

Hepatocytes: The liver’s principal metabolic and detoxifying cells.

The liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts make and transport bile.

Serum Bilirubin: Blood bilirubin after coagulation.

Prehepatic jaundice: Increased indirect bilirubin due to excessive red blood cell breakdown.

Intrahepatic Jaundice: Liver malfunction or injury causes higher direct and indirect bilirubin levels.

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