Skip to Content

Bilirubin, Serum

What is it?

Bilirubin is a test to check your liver or red blood cells (RBCs). If RBCs die more rapidly than normal, bilirubin levels in the blood will be higher than normal. Bilirubin, the main part of bile, is produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder.

Why do I need it?

If you have jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), your liver needs to be checked. The cells in the liver may not be working properly. This can cause illnesses such as hepatitis (hep-uh-ti-tis) or hemolytic (he-mo-lit-ic) anemia. The jaundice may be caused by something outside the liver such as gallstones or blocked bile ducts. Caregivers will explain the test and why you need it.

How do I get ready for the test?

Your caregiver will tell you when to have your blood test done. Do not eat or drink anything, except water, for at least 12 hours before the test. You may need to stop taking some medicines before the test. Ask your caregiver if you should take your normal medicines before your blood is taken.

How is the specimen collected?

A caregiver will put a wide rubber strap around your arm and tighten it. Your skin will be cleaned with alcohol. A small needle attached to a special test tube will be put into a vein in your arm or hand. The tube has suction to pull the blood into it. When the tube is full, the rubber strap, needle and tube are removed. The caregiver will press a piece of cotton where the needle was removed. You may be asked to hold the cotton on the site for a few minutes to help stop the bleeding. Tape may then be put over the cotton on your arm.

What do I do after the test?

You may remove the tape and cotton in about 20 to 30 minutes. Call your caregiver to get the results of your test. Your caregiver will explain what your test results mean for you. Follow the instructions of your caregiver.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your lab tests. You can then discuss the results with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.