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Liver Function Tests
Liver function tests (LFTs) are basic tests that consist of a series of tests on a sample of blood done.
Liver function tests are performed in your GP surgery, in a hospital and in many other areas where you may be being investigated for liver disease. As no test is completely accurate, it is good practice to do a number or series of tests over time to allow the doctor, nurse or specialist to examine a trend in your results, especially if the tests detect anything abnormal.
The Liver function test takes a look at different properties of your blood. The most common parts to the test you may have are:
Apart from LFTs, you may also be required to undergo a liver biopsy, and if this is the case, you may be asked to go for an ultrasound first.
Your liver ultrasound will usually be performed in the X-ray department of the hospital or in an outpatient clinic, day care department or ward. Normally, the ultrasound of your liver is a procedure done by a radiologist.
The machine will record the images of your liver and a report will be made by the radiologist. The report will only show the surface and the shape of the liver but will not show a detailed view of any abnormalities that may exist in the liver.
As the ultrasound only gives a pictorial overview of the liver, a liver biopsy is invariably the next step to definitely diagnose the liver disease.
On its own, LFTs cannot diagnose a condition based on symptoms and simple blood tests. Often the only way to diagnose a liver disease and identify how advanced it is to perform a liver biopsy.
Your liver biopsy is usually performed by a gastroenterologist, hepatologist or radiologist. Firstly, a blood sample will be taken to check your blood’s ability to clot. This is a routine precaution and is to ensure the liver biopsy can be performed safely with minimal risks. A local anaesthetic is administered prior to the liver biopsy procedure.
Your liver biopsy sample is sent to a pathologist who will examine it under a microscope and produce a report. The report will describe any inflammation or scarring (fibrosis) that may exist.
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