Exams and Tests
The health care pracitioner will need to take a detailed
history of the patient's illness, and he or she will also be examined to see if there are any
findings that indicate the cause of the patient's jaundice. However, additional testing is usually
required to clearly determine the underlying cause of jaundice. The following
tests and imaging studies may be obtained:
These may initially include a complete blood count
(CBC), liver function tests (including a bilirubin level), lipase/amylase level
to detect inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), and an electrolytes
panel. In women, a
pregnancy test may be obtained. Additional blood tests may be required depending
upon the initial results and the history provided to the practitioner.
is an analysis of the urine and is a very useful test in the diagnosis of
screening many diseases.
- Ultrasound: This is a safe, painless imaging study that uses sound waves to
examine the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. It is very useful for detecting
gallstones and dilated bile ducts. It can also detect abnormalities of the liver
and the pancreas.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan: A
CT scan is imaging study
similar to an X-ray that provides more details of all the abdominal organs. Though not as good as
ultrasound at detecting gallstones, it can identify various other abnormalities
of the liver, pancreas, and other abdominal organs as well.
(HIDA scan): A HIDA scan
is an imaging study that uses a radioactive substance to evaluate the gallbladder and the bile ducts.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):
MRI is an imaging study that uses a magnetic
field to examine the organs of the abdomen. It can be useful for detailed
imaging of the bile ducts.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP):
ERCP is a procedure that involves the introduction of
an endoscope (a tube with a camera at the end) through the mouth and into the
small intestine. A dye is then injected into the
bile ducts while X-rays are taken. It can be useful for identifying stones,
tumors, or narrowing of the bile ducts.
- In this procedure, a needle is inserted into the liver
after a local anesthetic has been administered. Often ultrasound will be used to
guide placement of the needle. The small sample of liver tissue which is
obtained is sent to a laboratory for examination by a
physician who specializes in diagnosis of tissue samples). Among other things, a
can be useful for diagnosing inflammation of the liver, cirrhosis, and cancer.
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