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Lab Tests to Diagnose Digestive Diseases in Children

Below are common laboratory tests that may be used to diagnose problems with the digestive system in children:

  • Albumin. A protein found in blood. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. A below-normal albumin level may indicate problems in the liver or kidneys, or malnutrition with protein loss. 

  • ALP (alkaline phosphatase). An enzyme produced in the liver and bone. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. A high level of ALP may indicate liver disease or bone growth. This test is also known as “alk phos.”

  • ALT (alanine aminotransferase). An enzyme produced in the liver. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. A high level of ALT may indicate problems in the liver.

  • Amylase. An enzyme produced in the salivary glands and pancreas that helps with digestion. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. An abnormal amylase level may mean problems in the pancreas or other gastrointestinal (GI) organs, including stomach or duodenal ulcers.

  • AST (aspartate aminotransferase). An enzyme found in the liver, kidneys, heart and other muscles, and in blood cells and body tissue. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. A high level of AST may indicate problems in the liver.

  • Bilirubin. A breakdown product of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in the blood. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. A high level of bilirubin may indicate liver disease or a problem with the red blood cells. 

  • BUN (blood urea nitrogen). Urea nitrogen is a product that forms when proteins are broken down. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. A high BUN level may indicate problems in the kidneys. A low BUN level may indicate liver failure or nutrition problems, such as low protein.

  • CBC (complete blood count). This test measures the amounts of different types of cells in the bloodstream. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. Abnormal results may indicate a range of problems including anemia (low red blood cell level), dehydration, and infection.

  • Creatinine. A breakdown product of creatine, which is found in muscle tissue. To check it, a blood sample or urine sample is taken from your child. A high creatinine level may indicate problems in the kidneys.

  • CRP (C-reactive protein). A protein produced by the liver when inflammation occurs. To check for it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. The presence of CRP may indicate inflammatory disorders or infection.

  • Fecal occult blood test. Checks for occult (hidden) blood in the stool. A stool sample is taken from your child and tested for blood. If occult blood is found, it suggests bleeding in the GI tract.

  • GGT (gamma-glutamyl transferase). An enzyme produced primarily in the liver. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. A high level of GGT may indicate problems in the liver or bile ducts.

  • Lipase­. An enzyme produced by the pancreas that helps break down fats. To check it, a blood sample is drawn from your child. A high level of lipase may indicate problems in the pancreas.

  • O&P (ova and parasite). This test checks for the presence of parasites in stool. Several stool samples are taken from your child. A positive result indicates a GI infection involving parasites.

  • Stool culture. This test checks for the presence of abnormal bacteria in stool. A stool sample is taken from your child. A positive result indicates a GI infection involving bacteria.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Lehrer, Jenifer, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2016
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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