written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 3/30/2009
In this article, we'll be examining the ALP blood test and what its results mean to you and what to expect from abnormal ranges.
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Blood tests – there are very few things they can’t be indicative of. Everything from heart disease to muscle death to liver failure can be determined by sticking a needle into your arm, as well as being not only indicative of preliminary testing for diseases that you can die from, but also to determine whether or not a pregnancy really is a pregnancy or just something else.
This makes the ALP test of particular importance to the diseases side of the spectrum, especially liver disease. The ALP test is the test for Alkaline Phosphatase – a special enzyme that removes phosphate groups from different kinds of molecules. Because it’s an Alkaline phosphatase, it is much more effective in an alkaline environment.
Back to basic anatomy and physiology, the stomach’s contents are quite acidic, thanks greatly in part to the stomach’s high concentration of acid. Once the stomach’s contents are pushed into the small intestine, the acidic contents need to be turned into something more malleable for absorption of nutrients – this is where several things come into play, including the bile from the liver. The bile from the liver happens to include ALP, which is exactly why the ALP test is so valuable from a diagnostic point of view.
If there are elevated levels of ALP in the blood, it would be clearly indicative of a bile duct blockage or even diagnose something like hepatitis. ALP is also indicative of higher liver function. This test is pivotal, especially when it comes to checking whether or not a treatment is working.
More importantly, the ALP test can also show LAP results, or Leukocyte Alkaline Phosphatase. LAP, among other things, can detect such nasty diseases like CML, or chronic myelogenous leukemia or even polycythemia vera (PV) or essential thrombocytosis (ET).
Of all the functions of the ALP test, the function of the test that examines Leukemoid reaction to infection is the most important. Following the diagnosis of leukemia and the subsequent successful transplantation of an allograft, checking for infection prior to the first year post-transplant is important to maintaining the patient’s overall health and preventing such things as Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and BK Viruses.