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What is the AST test?

This blood test measures an enzyme called aspartate aminotransferase (AST). Enzymes are chemicals that help the cells of your body work. AST is found in red blood cells, liver cells, and muscle cells, including the heart. It is released into the blood when these cells are damaged.

This enzyme is also called serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase, or SGOT.

Why is this test done?

The AST level is measured to check the liver, kidneys, heart, pancreas, muscles, and red blood cells. This test is also done to check medical treatments that may affect the liver.

How do I prepare my child for this test?

  • Your child may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your child’s healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that your child is taking. Ask your provider before stopping any of your child’s regular medicines.
  • Talk to your child’s healthcare provider if you have any questions about the test.

How is the test done?

Having this test will take just a few minutes. A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of the test.

What does the test result mean?

Some of the reasons your child’s AST level may be higher than normal are:

  • Your child has liver damage caused by:
    • Infection, such as viral hepatitis or mononucleosis
    • Disorders such as biliary atresia or cystic fibrosis
  • Your child has muscle damage caused by:
    • A muscle disease
    • An injury, such as after a fall, auto accident, or seizure
    • Recent exercise
  • Your child has kidney, pancreas, heart, or liver disease or damage.
  • Your child is taking a medicine that affects the test result.

No medical problems are known to cause an AST level that is lower than normal. Sometimes the test result may be lower than normal but it does not mean there is a problem.

What if my child’s test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history, physical exam, and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about the results and ask questions, such as:

  • If your child needs more tests
  • What kind of treatment your child might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes your child might need to make
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.3 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-02-10
Last reviewed: 2014-02-03
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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