Medicinski pregled 2004 Volume 57, Issue 9-10, Pages: 429-433
doi:10.2298/MPNS0410429S
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Elevated aminotransferase levels: Diagnostic approach

Simonović-Babić Jasmina, Delić Dragan, Švirtlih Neda, Đorđević Marija

Introduction Aminotransferase levels are a sensitive indicator of liver cell injury and is frequently used to identify patients with liver diseases such as hepatitis. Both aminotransferases are normally present in serum at low levels, usually less than 30 U per liter. Although these enzymes are present in tissues throughout the body, they are most often elevated in patients with liver diseases and may reflect liver injury. Raised aminotransferase levels of unknown origin are common problem in clinical practice. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity, the variable most commonly measured to assess hepatic disease, fails to identify many patients with hepatic injury. On the other hand, elevated ALT level doesn't always confirm liver disease. The aim of this study was to show the most common reasons for elevated aminotransferase levels. Material and methods The study included 27 patients with elevated ALT. All of them were followed-up for six months before liver biopsy was performed. All patients underwent routine laboratory tests and ultrasound of the abdomen. Results We found that four patients had a nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), four patients had chronic hepatitis of unknown etiology, two of them had autoimmune hepatitis, four had mild lobular hepatitis (three of them unresolved acute hepatitis, one of them had nodular regenerative hyperplasia), six patients had normal results, and three had no specific changes. Conclusion Elevated ALT level doesn't always mean that there is a liver disease. If aminotransferase levels are persistently more than twice the normal value, a biopsy is recommended. Although results of biopsy are unlikely to lead to a diagnosis or to changes in management, they often provide reassurance to the patient and the physician to exclude serious pathology.

Keywords: transaminases, diagnostic use, liver diseases, diagnosis, biopsy, hepatitis

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