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Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) blood test

  • Definition
    • The gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) blood test measures the level of the enzyme GGT in the blood.

  • Alternative Names
    • Gamma-GT; GGTP; GGT

  • How the Test is Performed
  • How to Prepare for the Test
    • The health care provider may tell you to stop taking medicines that can affect the test.

      Drugs that can increase GGT level include:

      • Alcohol
      • Phenytoin
      • Phenobarbital

      Drugs that can decrease GGT level include:

      • Birth control pills
      • Clofibrate
  • How the Test will Feel
    • When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.

  • Why the Test is Performed
    • GGT is an enzyme found in high level in the liver, kidney, pancreas, heart, and brain. It is also found in lesser amount in other tissues. An enzyme is a protein that causes a specific chemical change in the body.

      This test is used to detect diseases of the liver or bile ducts. It is also done with other tests (such as the ALT, AST, ALP, and bilirubin tests) to tell the difference between liver or bile duct disorders and bone disease.

      It may also be done to screen for or monitor alcohol use.

  • Normal Results
    • The normal range for adults is 8 to 65 U/L.

      Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or may test different specimens. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean
    • An increased GGT level may be due to any of the following:

      • Alcohol use
      • Diabetes
      • Flow of bile from the liver is blocked (cholestasis)
      • Heart failure
      • Swollen and inflamed liver (hepatitis)
      • Lack of blood flow to the liver
      • Death of liver tissue
      • Liver cancer or tumor
      • Lung disease
      • Pancreas disease
      • Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
      • Use of drugs that are toxic to the liver
  • Risks
    • There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

      Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

      • Bleeding from where the needle was inserted
      • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
      • Hematoma (blood collecting under the skin)
      • Infection (rare)
  • References
    • Pincus MR, Tierno PM, Fenelus M, Bowne WB, Bluth MH. Evaluation of liver function. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 21.

      Pratt DS. Liver chemistry and function tests. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 73.