My 73 yr. old mother has had blood tests results showing 'Total bilirubin' as 70. it then states umol/L 0-20. Is this a cause for concern?

Bilirubin is the yellowish pigment that is found in bile, a fluid produced by our liver. Total and direct bilirubin levels are measured to check for and to monitor problems of the liver or gallbladder. Large amounts of Bilirubin in the body may lead to jaundice.

A Bilirubin test is done to measure bilirubin in form of a urine sample or a blood test. These tests are done for adults and children alike. The test are conducted in order to:

  • Check liver function and look for signs of liver diseases like hepatitis or cirrhosis, or effects of certain medicine to the liver.
  • Find out if there is blockage to the bile ducts. Causes of these are gallstones, pancreatic tumors, or some other conditions.
  • Diagnose conditions that cause rapid destruction of red blood cells, such as hemolytic anemia.

The following are normal results for the test. Although the range is defined, the levels of bilirubin differ from person to person.

Bilirubin levels in adults

The total level of bilirubin

  • 0.3–1.0 mg/dL or
  • 5.1–17.0 mmol/L
Direct level of bilirubin
  • 0.1–0.3 mg/dL or
  • 1.7–5.1 mmol/L

The indirect level of bilirubin (this is the level that is seen after negating the direct bilirubin level from the total bilirubin level)

  • 0.2–0.8 mg/dL or
  • 3.4–12.0 mmol/L

Bilirubin levels could increase in the blood as a result of factors like:

  • Certain infections, very commonly infection of the gallbladder, known as cholecystitis.
  • Any diseases that are inherited like Gilbert's syndrome, which is a disease that is known to affect the manner in which the bilirubin is processed in the liver. Although some people having from this condition may suffer from jaundice, it is not a harmful disease.
  • Diseases which result in damage to the liver causing diseases such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, and mononucleosis.
  • Certain diseases that block the bile ducts. These would include pancreatic cancer or gallstones.
  • Diseases like sickle cell disease or allergic reactions in the blood caused due to a transfusion, which are caused by the destruction of mainly the red blood cells in your body.
  • Certain medicine that increase the level of bilirubin in your body. These would include antibiotics, certain pills for birth control, Indocin, Dilantin, Valium, and Dalmane.

The numbers provided seem to be measured on a different scale and might even be incorrect. It is recommended that you reconfirm the Total Bilirubin numbers from the blood test. You must determine the measuring quantity of the levels of Total Bilirubin. Do not come to direct conclusions. The scope of results on tests like these would differ from laboratory to laboratory. One must avoid self diagnosis based on tests alone. Please visit your doctor for further consultation and treatment.

answered by G R

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