British Liver Trust
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Gamma GT test

My hubby died of decompensated liver in March. We're over the shock now and are grieving, but i wondered if anyone could tell me if gamma gt tests are definitively alcohol markers or not. His consultant said they were at his inquest, but ive read they are not! I believe antibiotics killed him because 2 weeks after having them for pneumonia he died and his bilirubim levels reduced by 15% in the last 4 days of his life, which the trauma doc told me was very strange!

8 Replies

Hi there

So sorry to hear what happened. Had your husband been found to have any liver problems previous to this?.

My husband became unwell in 2006 and it took roughly 7 months before anybody discovered he had a liver problem.

His GGT levels were really high and he very rarely touched alcohol.

Because we were so insistent about this they performed a liver Biopsy and found he had a hereditary disorder ,namely, Alpha 1 Antytripsin Deficiency. This silently causes liver, lung and skin diseases. They also questioned whether or not he also has Autoimmune Hepatitis.

By 2011 he had a transplant.

Has anybody in your husbands family suffered with chest or liver problems?

Nearly 5 years on he has developed an enlarged Liver and Spleen again so waiting for scan results.

So the answer to your question is no GGT levels do not only relate to Alcohol there are other health issues that can cause raised GGT.

I find it odd that he was found so quickly to be decompensated or had he been ill previously?. Was he just a moderate or not a drinker?.

Unfortunatley if you answer yes to drinking ANY amount of alcohol they do not tend to look any deeper.

But in our case being a virtual non drinker they had to.


He had a knee op in 2012 - cut a long story short, a year later they discovered the infection he got was mrsa and it was in his bone. He'd already been on tablet antibiotics but they had to'flood him' (pharmacists words) with intravenous cocktails of antibiotics. 2 weeks after 8month long course of antibiotics finished he had a grand mal seizure. His gamma gt was massively high so they blamed alcohol. He died 12 months later and in his last few weeks caught pneumonia had antibiotics again and died 2 weeks later.


My Husbands gamma gt results are high at the moment 350 and his is due to alcohol, and his friends gamma gt was also alcohol related, his was 1200 when he died...Was your husband a heavy drinker? Most alcoholics that die are a result of pueumonia or as a result of injury caused through being drunk at the time, etc choking on their own vomit,falling down stairs or over and banging their heads. I agree with freddy they dont look deeper into it if the death is alcohol related.

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Thanks for the info. He wasnt an alcoholic but he drank like most people. He was in hospital for 4 weeks before he died and caught pnemonia whilst there. The pathologist found no alcoholic markers in his liver.

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He was 50 when he died, his dad died at 55 and he always said he would die young - when i asked why he said he just knew. I dont believe there are liver problems but his dad was an orphan so hard to know for sure. I dont know the maternal family well either.

It just aggrevates me that they blamed it all on drink when his liver started to fail 12 months before he died which was when he finished the antibiotics.

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Yes GGT is used as a marker for Alcohol abuse. but a failing Liver could have them elevated anyway, without alcohol being involved.

Antibiotics can kill some people if they have a bad reaction and I have heard of people getting some Hepatitis but recovering. It is a possibility your husbands already failing Liver was tipped over the edge by a bad reaction to the antibiotics.

Its obviously a difficult time for you, but decompensated Cirrhosis is a time bomb, is it really going to help anyone if you are going to go gunning for the doctors? If they hadn't tried something the pneumonia would have killed him. I personally would rather have gone the way your husband did than to be suffering longer, slowly the Liver would have stopped working as the Cirrhosis took hold and it could have been months to years tipping in and out of compensated Cirrhosis, bursting veins, pain, being a burden to the health service and family. I bet he is looking down and thinking it was better the leave.


Thank you Hidden its a bit early for me to be thinking it was better for him because I miss him so much, but i did recognise the pain he was in.

And im not gunning for anyone, i am just unhappy that at the inquest the consultant said gamma gt was definitive for alcohol, which based on what everyone has said, it is clearly not definitive.

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It shouldn't be. I had normal ggt for three months after giving up alcohol then suddenly my lfts shot up including ggt. I hadn't drunk anything but water and tomato juice. I was put on some medication but the heptologist thought it was a virus that had caused it or some fat on my liver.

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