How is the disease diagnosed?
A healthcare provider can
determine whether a person's symptoms, medical history, and physical exam are
consistent with liver disease. Splenomegaly, or an enlarged, firm liver, and
other signs of liver disease may be found on examination. Many further tests
may also be used to support the diagnosis. These include blood tests, such as:
liver function tests, which are
blood tests that check a wide variety of liver enzymes and byproducts
a complete blood count, or CBC,
which looks at the type and number of blood cells in the body
ultrasounds, to show size of
abdominal organs and the presence of masses
an upper GI study, which can detect abnormalities in the esophagus caused by
liver scans with radiotagged
substances to show changes in the liver structure
ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde
cholangiopancreatography. A thin tube called an endoscope is used to view various structures in and around
abdominal CT scan and abdominal MRI, which provide more
information about the liver structure and function
In some cases, the only way to definitively diagnosis the presence of certain
liver diseases is by a liver biopsy.
This procedure involves the removal of a small piece of liver tissue for
examination under a microscope.
Liver biopsies may have to be done repeatedly to see how the disease is
progressing or responding to treatment.