How To Test For Liver Disease?

A life-long condition like liver disease can be managed with early treatment, which can be done through medications and lifestyle changes. Treatment prevents the progression of the disease and maintains the healthy function of the liver. Your healthcare provider will prescribe you appropriate treatment based on the type of liver disease, cause, degree of damage, etc.

For prescribing the right treatment, your healthcare provider will conduct your physical examination and get to know about your general health by asking you several questions. After gathering the necessary information, they will suggest some diagnostic tests, which are as follows:

Blood tests – Your doctor will order blood sample tests that will help them identify the root cause of the symptoms you are experiencing. These tests will provide a detailed analysis of the liver damage. The degree of damage and severity will be evaluated by measuring the levels of certain proteins and enzymes present in your blood sample.

Moreover, your liver releases some proteins to protect itself against any damage. In the blood tests examination, they will detect whether your liver is producing this protein and if so, then in what amount.

This test is done to confirm the liver damage because the liver might act up for a short time and get back to its healthy function. Blood tests will reveal if the person has got his liver damaged or has an absolutely healthy liver.

Imaging tests – Screening tests have different methods. They help in finding the degree of damage, size, and function of the liver. The healthcare provider will also prescribe the patient these tests during the treatment, to assess the improvement and whether the liver is responding to the treatment. Various types of imaging tests for liver disease are as follows:

CT scan – A computerized tomography (CT) test will reveal whether there is a presence of tumors and cancers in the liver. This technology uses radiation, which scans detailed images of the liver and blood vessels. It can also check if the person has fatty liver disease.

MRI scan – A magnetic resonance imaging scan test will detect whether the liver is acting up because of some infection, fatty liver disease, tumors, and other reasons. Basically, these techniques help in determining the root cause of Liver disease.

Ultrasound elastography – This type of test utilizes ultrasound technology, that checks for the scars on the liver. The scars can affect all the healthy tissues and spread throughout the entire liver, leading to cirrhosis. This test checks for the degree of damage caused because of scarring.

Magnetic resonance elastography – This technique is a combination of MRI and ultrasound technology, which generates detailed and structured images of the liver and checks for fibrosis.

Liver biopsy – This test reveals the liver conditions and the extent of damage. It involves the removal of samples of tissues from the liver. The tissues are then checked under the microscope to detect the presence of disease and infection. This is also helpful in detecting the presence of tumors due to abnormal growth of cells and the degree of damage to the liver. According to the Mayo Clinic website, liver biopsies are of three types, which are:

Percutaneous biopsy – This technique involves the insertion of a small needle inside the liver. Some medication is first applied to the area to numb the surface, such that the pain might not be felt. The biopsy needle is inserted, which takes a few seconds. The patient will be asked to hold their breath while inserting the needle. The needle after insertion is withdrawn quickly.

Trans jugular biopsy – The patient is asked to lie on their back and the medication that numbs the area is applied to one side of the neck. A plastic tube is inserted in the jugular vein through an incision. The tube is then threaded down into a large vein in the liver and a contrast liquid is injected. Then X-ray images of the liver will be scanned.

Laparoscopic biopsy – In this type of biopsy, small incisions will be made in the abdomen to insert some tools along with a tiny camera attached to it, inside the liver. The tiny camera helps with the insertion of tools in the right spot. The tool collects the tissue sample, and the incisions are covered through stitches.

Your healthcare provider will suggest a combination of diagnostic tests, which will help them with the identification of the exact cause of liver disease and the level of damage that has already occurred to the liver. Once they obtain accurate data and reports of the liver disease tests, they will begin the appropriate treatment.

The treatment will involve medications and some necessary lifestyle changes. However, if the damage is serious, then they will suggest a liver transplant, which is done through surgical procedures.

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