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What is Bilirubin Total?
The Bilirubin Total helps measure the amount of bilirubin present in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment that is made during the normal breakdown of red blood cells. It passes through the liver and is eventually excreted out of the body.
This test is advised if one experiences symptoms of liver disease such as dark-colored urine, jaundice, and vomiting. It is also done as a part of liver function test. It may also be advised in newborns to monitor neonatal jaundice. It can even be used to indicate history of heavy intake of alcohol.
High levels of bilirubin may lead to yellowing of skin and eyes, in case of jaundice.
Why is Bilirubin Total done?
The Bilirubin Total is done:
In case of signs or symptoms of liver disease such as dark-colored urine, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue
As a part of liver function test or routine health checkup
In case of history of taking heavy intake of alcohol
In case of exposure to hepatitis virus
In case of signs or symptoms of hemolytic anemia like pale skin, jaundice, splenomegaly
In newborns, to monitor neonatal jaundice
What does Bilirubin Total Measure?
The Bilirubin Total measures the amount of bilirubin present in the blood of a person. Bilirubin is an orange-yellow waste pigment produced by the normal breakdown of heme. The heme is a component of hemoglobin and is found in red blood cells. The liver processes the bilirubin and eliminates it from the body.
The life span of red blood cells is about 120 days. The heme which is released from the hemoglobin is converted into bilirubin which is called unconjugated bilirubin. It is then carried to the liver by proteins, where it gets attached to sugars and becomes conjugated bilirubin. This conjugated bilirubin enters the bile from the liver and passes to the small intestine. Here, it gets broken down by the bacteria and further gets eliminated in the stool. These breakdown products of bilirubin are responsible for giving the characteristic brown color to the stool.
A healthy adult body produces approximately 250 - 350 mg of bilirubin daily. About 85% of bilirubin comes from damaged or degraded RBCs while the remaining amount comes from the bone marrow or liver.
Small amount of unconjugated bilirubin is released in the blood normally, but there is no virtual presence of conjugated bilirubin in the blood.
Both the forms of bilirubin can be measured or evaluated by the laboratory tests, and total bilirubin (sum of conjugated or unconjugated bilirubin) may be reported. In case there is an increase in levels of bilirubin, there will be yellowing of the skin and white of the eyes, giving the appearance of jaundice.
Interpreting Bilirubin Total results
The normal values of total bilirubin may range from 0.30 mg/dL to 1.20 mg.dL.
Reference range may vary from lab to lab*
Increased total bilirubin which is mainly unconjugated may be due to hemolytic anemia, transfusion reactions
Increased total bilirubin which is mainly conjugated may be due to viral hepatitis, drug reactions, alcoholic liver disease, gall stones or any obstruction in the bile ducts
Low levels of bilirubin are usually not a cause for concern and therefore not monitored