If you are worried about abdominal pain, itchy skin, or yellowing skin, it’s important you contact your doctor. Though some alarming symptoms could indicate an issue with the liver, a diagnosis is the only way to confirm it.
A timely diagnosis of liver disease can help you access the best liver treatments at the earliest. After listening to your symptoms, your hepatologist can use/recommend the following methods for diagnosing your condition:
Physical Examination and Medical History
This is the first step in diagnosing liver disease. Your hepatologist will ask you certain questions to know more about your medical history. This includes the medications you have been taking, family history of any disease, and frequency of alcohol and drug intake. Some of the questions your doctor can ask include:
- Do you exercise?
- What type of diet do you take?
- How is your sleep cycle?
- How long have you been feeling discomfort?
If you have a history of sharing contaminated needles, blood transfusion, and unprotected sexual intercourse, you should share it with your doctor as these are some of the risk factors for infective liver disease.
During a physical exam, the hepatologist looks for signs of liver damage. For example, patients who have cirrhosis may appear weak because of weight loss. There is also yellowing of eyes and skin in Jaundice. The abdomen may show distension upon inspection. If your doctor finds something unusual, then tests will be conducted for confirming the diagnosis.
These Include Your Blood Tests and Imaging Tests.
Blood tests usually involve laboratory tests that measure the levels of proteins, enzymes, and other substances synthesized by the liver. Abnormal levels of such components could indicate a liver problem. Blood tests measure serum enzymes, alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, and albumin. Sometimes routine blood examinations like CBC (complete blood cell count) can also help in diagnosing liver disease. WBCs, RBCs, and platelet count can be decreased if the liver disease has progressed to an advanced stage. Since liver disease may also be accompanied by inflammation of the pancreas, pancreatic lipase is also assessed.
Ultrasonography: This method uses sound waves to create pictures of the liver, bile ducts, and gall bladder. The images can then be studied to identify structural abnormalities like tumors, fatty liver, or even cirrhosis that affects the entire liver. It is a safe test.
CT scan: This imaging test provides a detailed visualization of the deeper liver tissues and can help in detecting tumors. Additionally, it is useful for checking fatty liver and abscesses.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI gives a clear image that could provide clues about conditions like hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and hemochromatosis. It can also show blood flow which helps in detecting blood vessel disorders.
A liver biopsy will be performed by your hepatologist to obtain information about the liver that may not have been revealed by tests. The hepatologist will insert the needle through the liver tissue to obtain a sample that will be sent for analysis. Liver biopsy can detect fatty liver, chronic hepatitis, Wilson’s disease, metastatic liver cancer, and chronic inflammation of the liver.
Avail Liver Transplantation Across the World
If any of the above-mentioned diagnostic tests reveal a liver disease then you should start your treatment as soon as possible. It is vital to connect with a reputed hospital and an experienced hepatologist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment of your condition.