Wednesday, August 3, 2011
DIAGNOSING LIVER DISEASE
Diagnosis of Liver disease can pose several challenges, primarily in the form of vagueness of symptoms which may be misleading and be a cause of confusion with other health problems. One may come across quite a few cases where symptoms are absent but the patient may still have undergone severe damage to the liver.
An open discussion with your doctor may be necessary in case he or she suspects you to be having a liver disease. This would be required to assess various factors which you may have been exposed to like consumption of certain prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs, blood transfusions, exposure to toxic chemicals or to blood products at work - eg. accidental pricking of needle sticks. Travel to high risk areas, alcohol consumption, sexual activity, regular or experimental use of injection drugs and a family history of liver disease are also possible factors.
Indicators of liver disease which your doctor may look for are jaundice, tenderness in the region of the liver or swelling of the abdomen.
Proper functioning of your liver and causes of liver damage, if any, can be determined by means of blood tests called Liver Tests, which indicate the presence of liver inflammation or antibodies or virus particles that point to a particular liver disease.
In some cases, you may need to undergo a liver biopsy wherein a thin needle is inserted into your liver which removes a tiny piece of tissue which is further examined microscopically.
With the advancement of medical diagnostic technology, imaging tests like Ultrasound, Computerized Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography (ERCP) and Magnetic Resonance Cholangio Pancreatography (MRCP), detecting specific types of liver disease has become more precise and they also help in determining the extent of scarring of the liver.