Read on to learn more about what to expect during and after your bilirubin test.
During a bilirubin test. Bilirubin testing is a process done using a blood sample. Usually, the blood is drawn through a small needle and is inserted into a vein in the bend of your arm.
The needle is attached to a small tube, in which your blood is collected. You may feel a rapid sensation of pain as the needle is inserted in your arm and experience some short-term discomfort at the site after the needle is removed.
Blood for bilirubin testing in neonates is usually obtained using a sharp lance to break the skin of the heel (heel stick). Your blood will be further sent to a laboratory for analysis. You can usually return to your normal activities immediately.
6 Procedure Results
Bilirubin tests are always expressed as direct, indirect or total bilirubin. The total is a combination of both direct and indirect bilirubin. You usually get the results for direct and indirect bilirubin.
Normal results for a bilirubin test are 1.2 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) of total bilirubin for adults, and usually 1mg/dL for those under 18. Normal results for direct bilirubin are generally 0.3 mg/dL.
These results may differ slightly depending on the laboratory in which the testing was conducted. Normal results may be slightly different for women and children and results may be affected by certain foods, medications or strenuous exercise.
Lower than normal bilirubin levels are actually not a concern. Elevated levels may be signs of liver damage or disease. Higher than normal levels of direct bilirubin in your blood may indicate your liver is not effectively clearing bilirubin.
Elevated levels of indirect bilirubin may indicate other problems. One common, and harmless, cause of elevated bilirubin is Gilbert's syndrome, a deficiency in an enzyme that helps break down bilirubin.
Your doctor may order further tests to investigate your condition. Bilirubin test results also may be used for the monitoring of the progression of certain conditions such as jaundice.
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