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Bilirubin

Results

A bilirubin test measures the amount of bilirubin in a blood sample. The results are usually available in 1 to 2 hours.

Normal values in adults

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Bilirubin levels in adults1
Bilirubin typeBilirubin level

Total bilirubin

0.3–1.0 mg/dL or 5.0–17.0 mmol/L

Direct bilirubin

0.0–0.2 mg/dL or 0.0–3.4 mmol/L

High values

Low values

Low levels of bilirubin in the blood may be caused by:

Normal values in newborns

Normal values in newborns depend on the age of the baby in hours and whether the baby was premature or full term. Normal values may vary from lab to lab.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful (except in newborns) include:

  • Caffeine, which can lower bilirubin levels.
  • Not eating for a long period (fasting), which normally increases indirect bilirubin levels.

What To Think About

  • Bilirubin can be measured in amniotic fluid if your doctor thinks that your unborn baby may have a condition that destroys red blood cells (erythroblastosis fetalis). For more information, see the topic Amniocentesis.
  • Bilirubin may also be measured in the urine in some cases. Normally, urine does not contain any bilirubin. If bilirubin is detected in urine, additional testing may be needed to determine the cause. High amounts of bilirubin in urine may indicate that the bilirubin is not being removed from the body by the liver.
  • Using a transcutaneous bilirubin test, doctors can screen all newborns for jaundice. They place a device gently against the skin to check bilirubin levels before a baby goes home from the hospital. For more information, see the topic Jaundice in Newborns.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 11, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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