Liver Disease Diagnosis

If your liver is ailing, obtaining a correct diagnosis of your liver disease is essential. Only once the cause of your liver disease is known can treatment begin to fix it. A broad range of tests and examines is usually needed to confirm a liver disease diagnosis. The following tests and exam procedure are frequently part of the process. Most of the tests are simple and fast for the person being studied, though occasionally, they may result in pain. In a few instances, there may additional health risks involved.

Liver Function Tests

In order to understand what is happening in your liver and ascertain the problem, your doctor will likely request one or several liver function tests. These liver function tests have different goals. Some test how well your liver continues to function, via measurement of the albumin protein, which is manufactured by the liver. Others examine the integrity of your liver, such as those testing levels the alanine transaminase enzyme, which is much more prevalent in instances of liver disease. Additionally, a measuring of the aspartate transaminase enzyme may be conducted in order to differentiate between types of liver disease. These tests involve technical aspects of health and should only be decided upon by a qualified doctor. These tests are usually done by drawing a blood sample.

Abdominal Ultrasound

In an abdominal ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves are introduced near the body, allowing for a picture to be formed on a sonography machine. It is a non-invasive procedure which effectively allows a doctor to look inside a living body without cutting it open. An ultrasound may be used to allow a doctor to see if your liver has any major problems. For the procedure, you will likely be instructed to lie on your back while a cool gel is applied to your abdomen before a transducer is passed over the area to create the image. It usually takes about half an hour to complete.

AMA Test

The AMA test is used to identify some kinds of cirrhosis, wherein the liver’s biliary system is badly damaged. To conduct the AMA test, a doctor will order a blood sample. No test preparation is needed.

Liver Biopsy

In some cases, a doctor might need a piece of your liver in order to test it for disease. In these instances, a liver biopsy is ordered. The piece of liver is then greatly magnified and inspected. A liver biopsy may also reveal how extensive the damage to your liver is. Generally in the procedure, a doctor will inject an empty needle into your liver to remove a small sample. This process may be done in conjunction with an ultrasound to help direct the doctor’s needle. It may involve a brief hospital stay or be done on an out-patient basis, depending on the person. Results of the test are not immediate but instead take a few days to a week to return. There is slight risk involving this process; the liver may bleed out (called hemorrhaging).