Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme that is mostly synthesized in the liver and bone. Altered levels of alkaline phosphatase in the blood can be indicative of certain specific disease pathologies. Small amounts of ALP are also produced in the intestines, kidney, and in the placenta (of pregnant women). The conditions that increase the level of ALP in the blood are rapid bone growth as during puberty, bone disorders, hyperparathyroidism, or liver cell damage. Once the ALP level is found to be high, further investigations need to be done to detect the cause.
This test is usually done as a part of the liver function tests in liver diseases or where damage to the liver is suspected as in alcoholism or when hepatotoxic drugs are being administered to patients. Diseases of the bone such as osteomalcia, rickets, bone tumors, Paget's disease or hyperparathyroidism are the conditions that can be diagnosed with the help of the ALP test. In hyperparathyroidism, the calcium level in the blood increases because calcium escapes from the bones due to demineralization under the influence of the parathormone.
An elastic belt is wrapped around your upper arm to obstruct the blood flow. This causes the veins below the belt to become more prominent, thereby making it easy for the phlebotomist to insert the needle into the vein to draw blood. The site to be punctured is cleaned with surgical spirit and the needle is then gently introduced into the vein and the required amount of blood is drawn into the syringe. The needle is then withdrawn, a wad of cotton soaked in surgical spirit is pressed over the punctured site, and the belt is removed from your arm.
The normal values of the test vary from lab to lab depending upon the equipments that they use and their calibration. On an average, a value of alkaline phosphatase that ranges between 38 and 126 international units per liter (IU/L) is considered to be normal for adults. High levels of this enzyme are also found in heart failure, heart attack patients, cases of infectious mononucleosis, kidney cancer, and during normal healing of a fractured bone. Conditions leading to malabsorption such as celiac disease can cause the levels of alkaline phosphatase to be on the lower side.
Liver damaging medications like some antibiotics, birth control pills, long-term use of aspirin, oral hypoglycemic drugs, pregnancy, menopause, and alcohol abuse may alter the results of the tests, deeming them inaccurate. There may be complications related to the procedure, such as development of a bruise at the puncture site. Very rarely, inflammation of the vein may occur, which is medically termed as phlebitis. In such cases, application of warm compresses several times daily can offer some relief. People suffering from bleeding disorders may continue to bleed for a longer time period and may have to be treated accordingly.
Share this Article with your Friends