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 type||Bilirubin level|
mg/dL or 1.7–20.5
0.0–0.3 mg/dL or 1.7–5.1 mcmol/L
0.2–1.2 mg/dL or 3.4–20.5 mcmol/L
- High levels of bilirubin in the blood may be
- Some infections, such as an infected
- Some inherited diseases,
such as Gilbert's syndrome, a condition that affects how the liver processes
bilirubin. Although jaundice may occur in some people with Gilbert's syndrome,
the condition is not harmful.
- Diseases that cause liver damage,
- Diseases that cause
blockage of the bile ducts, such as
gallstones or cancer of the
- Rapid destruction of
red blood cells in the blood, such as from
sickle cell disease or an
allergic reaction to blood received during a
transfusion (called a transfusion reaction).
- Medicines that may increase bilirubin levels. This
includes many antibiotics, some types of birth control pills, diazepam (Valium), flurazepam, indomethacin
(Indocin), and phenytoin (Dilantin).
Low levels of bilirubin in the blood
may be caused by:
- Medicines that may decrease bilirubin
levels. This includes vitamin C, phenobarbital, and
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)
- Caffeine, which can lower bilirubin
- 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
- 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
- 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.