Bile acids are produced as the result of the metabolic functions of the liver. They are also stored in the liver, from where they are transmitted through the bloodstream to digested food when eating. Once the food has entered the small intestine, the bile acids are re-absorbed via the liver into the gall bladder. Only a very small fraction of bile acids end up in the large intestine and stool with the food.
It is important to the absorption of many nutrients that bile acids bind to them in the small intestine. These include fatty acids, cholesterol, and fat-soluble vitamins.
When should bile acid levels be measured?
Because the liver is the most important organ from the point of view of bile acids, bile acids are among the most sensitive indicators of liver function. Therefore, bile acid levels are often measured when examining liver disorders. They are also used for diagnosing pregnancy-induced liver disease, or obstetric hepatosis.
Watery diarrhoea occurs in connection with the malabsorption of bile acids. The following symptoms can also occur:
- mild fever
- loss of appetite
- feeling of pressure in the upper abdomen
What does a bile acid test measure?
The test measures the amount of bile acid in the blood. The level readily increases in connection with liver function disorders.
How is the bile acid result interpreted?
Normally, the result is:
- <6 µmol/l
Please note that ursodeoxycholic acid medication (trade names include Adursal, Ursochol, Ursosan) affects the bile acid level and disturbs the results, because the test also measures the level of ursodeoxycholic acid.
Please contact your physician or other healthcare professional if you suspect an illness or need help interpreting the results.
The reference values of this examination have changed 11.10.2021. You will find your own result's reference values from My LOUNA in touch with the graph. Read more about defining reference values.
What can cause elevated bile acid values?
Bile acid levels increase in liver cirrhosis, in connection with viral hepatitis, pregnancy-induced liver disease or obstetric hepatosis, liver damage caused by alcohol and drugs, and in connection with tumours of the liver.
What can cause decreased bile acid values?
A low value is not connected to disease.
Sources (Bile acid):
SYNLAB test list: Bile acids (3379 S–Sappih) https://www.yml.fi/tuotekuvaus_show.php?tuotenro=325
Reunapaikka: Sappihapporipuli – syyt, oireet, diagnostiikka ja hoito https://reunapaikka.fi/kysy-laakarilta/sappihapporipuli-ja-ibd/
IBD ja muut suolistosairaudet: Sappihapporipuli https://ibd.fi/tietoa-sairauksista/sappihapporipuli/
Fasting is not required
This examination does not require fasting