The liver performs more than a dozen functions, and it is in almost all processes occurring in the body.
To find out what is wrong with your liver, you may have to undergo some diagnostic tests.
The liver handles many important functions in the body, including:
- The production of bile, which helps to digest fats and remove them from the body.
- Breakdown and absorption of nutrients from food.
- The body’s way of getting rid of harmful substances, such as drugs and alcohol.
Modern Methods For The Liver Damage Diagnosis
In most clinics, the primary appointment leads by a general therapist. He conducts an examination and takes an anamnesis. He determines the problems associated with a liver. And if it necessary he refers to a gastroenterologist or hepatologist.
A gastroenterologist checks the work of the gastrointestinal tract. It is because the liver is an organ which affects on digestion. Most often, this specialist provide the diagnose.
Not all medical institutions have a hepatologist. Doctor can diagnoses hepatitis, cirrhosis and other treats of hepatobiliary system diseases. It includes the liver, gallbladder and ducts.
The patient may also need to consult an oncologist or infectious disease specialist. Depending on the diagnosis, he can need a surgeon or consultancy of other specialists.
The doctor receives primary data on the patient’s condition through a survey. The specialist can assess parameters such a size, location of the liver and its density. Also he found the presence of pain through palpation and percussion (tapping).
Usually, the patient needs to go for laboratory tests and instrumental inspection.
Doctors should determine:
- the fact and degree of liver dysfunction;
- the degree of histological activity (neuroinflammatory process, fibrosis (cirrhosis) of the liver);
- the infectious and hereditary diseases of the liver -hepatitis of various etiologies;
- the presence of cancer in the liver.
Pigment metabolism study
Identification of the bilirubin pigment through a blood test allows to check the overall functions of the liver. Bilirubin can be conjugated (direct) and unconjugated (indirect), as well as general, implemented in itself both of them.
Laboratory diagnosis of liver diseases
This indicator is checked during a general urine test, which the therapist detects in almost any symptomatology. During the analysis, the only direct bilirubin can be detected.
Determination of the content of bile acids in bile
A study to assess the condition of the liver, bile cells and bile ducts, as well as to monitor the condition of patients with hepatitis C. An increased acid index may indicate a violation of the outflow of bile.
Study of protein metabolism
The performance of the liver function in protein metabolism determines according to the analysis of the content of total protein, albumin, globulins, fibrinogen.
Coagulation system research
The aim of analysis is a determination of prothrombinwhic is an enzyme synthesized in the liver and observed in blood clotting. The most common research method is analysis according to Quick, comparing the patient’s blood coagulation with a standard sample.
Study of the excretory function of the liver
Special tests are used to evaluate this function. A dye solution is injected into the patient’s blood, a primary blood test is taken in three minutes, the next – in 45 minutes and the last test -in next 45 minutes. Normally, a person should have no more than 5% of the dye after the last test. If the rate is above 7%, they speak of a violation of the excretory function of the liver.
Definition of cholinesterase
Definition of cholinesterase according to analysis of the level of an enzyme which is synthesized with the liver. It helps to assess the level of synthetic activity of organs. It is also effective for the patien’s recovery monitoring.
Serum Enzyme Study
The definition of aminotransferases and alkaline phosphatase has been established in this group of analysys. Analysis for alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) enzymes is one of the main ones in detecting liver pathologies. It is important not only the content of indicators, but also the ratio of AST/ALT, normally indexes are equal to 1,33 ±0, 42. An analysis of the ALT or AST index is often sufficient for primary liver screening in the absence of complaints. Alkaline phosphatase analysis helps identify metastatic tumors and bile duct problems.
Determination of the liver carbohydrate metabolism
This analysis is carried out with the suspicion for cirrhosis, hepatitis and other diseases. The analysis is similar to the assessment of excretory function. The patient is given a solution of galactose to drink or an intravenous injection. Then, an urine and blood tests are taken in two hours. The galactose in the blood should be absent if there are no problems with the carbohydrate metabolism of the liver. The content of galactose should be no more than 6g in one litr of the substance in two hours after ingestion and no more than 1,5 g in a liter after four hours. An increased content of galactose in the urine indicates acute hepatitis and the persistence of the substance in subsequent samples (after 10 and 24 hours) indicates a chronic disease.
Instrumental diagnostic methods
Laboratory methods are not the only way to detect diseases. There are a lot of instrumental methods for the final confirmation of the diagnosis, determining the stage of the pathology, monitoring, identifying the nature and degree of liver damage.
Ultrasound diagnosis of liver diseases is an inexpensive and fairly informative method of research. Violations in the structure of the organ (for example, cysts, tumors), its sizes, location anomalies are detected with its help.
Computed tomography is a study of the liver using x-rays. The CT scan is a layered three-dimensional image of the organ and allows you to study each section in detail, detect even small neoplasms and foci of various diseases.
Magnetic resonance imaging allows you to determine the presence and nature of liver tumors, fatty degeneration and many other diseases.It is possible to see the patency of blood vessels, bile ducts when using a contrast medium.
- Radioisotope scanning
A method of studying an organ using radioactive isotopes is also called scintigraphy. The result of the study is a two-dimensional image that allows you to identify hemangiomas of the liver, to evaluate its functioning. It is used less often than the previous diagnostic methods, as it is inferior to them in formativeness, in some cases it gives a false positive result.
- Liver biopsy
Taking a sample of organ tissue using a special needle is used to determine the degree of liver damage, the stage of some diseases. For the diagnosis of a number of pathologies, such as hemochromatosis, latent hepatitis B, liver biopsy is the main method of investigation.
Some liver diseases can have severe consequences, and even lead to death. Therefore, you should immediately contact a specialist who will prescribe a comprehensive examination when the first symptoms appear such as pain in the right hypochondrium, nausea, yellowness of the skin, etc. You should also carefully choose a clinic that will conduct laboratory tests and instrumental studies. The accuracy of the results largely depends on the quality of the equipment and the professionalism of the staff.
Modern Methods For Detecting Liver Problems And At-Home Tests
Many liver diseases are asymptomatic and it greatly complicates to diagnosis of severe disease. In particular, the viral hepatitis C, which is called the “gentle killer”, often passes in a latent form. Patients are not always able to visit a doctor, and some of them completely ignore the alarm signals with a slight indisposition.
Liver Function Tests can help in this case. Patiens, emergency doctors, as well as specialists in stationary medical institutions, can use these simple devices to determine problems with the functionality of the gland if a blood test is not possible.
However, the data is an approximate, and it is impossible to know the exact cause of problems with the liver. The level of damage to the hepatic parenchyma will also remain a mystery. A quality product determines 5-10 important urine indicators indicating the state of the liver, as well as the level of bilirubin and other liver markers.
However, they cannot replace urine and blood tests. Only the results of laboratory tests can accurately indicate the causes of liver dysfunctions, the presence of a viral and bacterial infection or toxic poisoning. Therefore, there is an urgent need to take a blood and urine tests if the results obtained with the test strips turned out to be disappointing.
There Are Several Most Popular At-Home Liver Function Tests:
- Liver Function Test by Verisana
- Gallbladder & Liver Testing Kit by Complete Natural Products
- Urine Strips and Mobile App for at-Home Monitoring of Hydration, pH, Blood, Kidney, and Liver Health by Urinify