Bilirubin

This is a test of the bile in the blood that is formed in the liver. This is composed mainly of broken down hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the oxygen carrying material in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin is necessary to help the red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. When the bilirubin becomes too high, a person will become jaundiced. This means your skin turns yellow and the whites of your eyes turn yellow. This test is commonly done on newborn babies because their livers are not mature enough. This means the liver is not well enough developed to handle the breakdown products of the red blood cells. The bilirubin can become too high and eventually cause brain damage. When this test is elevated in a newborn, phototherapy is often used. This is a light therapy which helps break down the bilirubin in the blood to a form that can be gotten rid of by the kidneys.

PREPARATION FOR TEST

No preparation or fasting is needed. A blood sample or skin prick will be used to obtain a sample for testing.

NORMAL FINDINGS

Adult/elderly/child:

  • Total bilirubin: 0.3 to 1.0 mg/dl or 5.1 to 17 umol/L (SI units)

  • Indirect bilirubin: 0.2 to 0.8 mg/dl or 3.4 to 12.0 umol/L (SI units)

  • Direct bilirubin: 1.0 to 12.0 mg/dl or 17.1 to 205 umol/L (SI units)

Newborn:

  • Total bilirubin: 1.0 to 12.0 mg/dl or 17.1 to 205 umol/L (SI units)

Ranges for normal findings may vary among different laboratories and hospitals. You should always check with your doctor after having lab work or other tests done to discuss the meaning of your test results and whether your values are considered within normal limits.

MEANING OF TEST

Your caregiver will go over the test results with you. Your caregiver will discuss the importance and meaning of your results. He or she will also discuss treatment options and additional tests, if needed.

OBTAINING THE TEST RESULTS

It is your responsibility to obtain your test results. Ask the lab or department performing the test when and how you will get your results.