Screenings and Diagnosis

For the best possible outcomes in liver disease treatment, we start with a thorough evaluation and diagnosis. At Henry Ford Health System, our liver physicians use the most advanced diagnostic tools available.

You can rely on our experienced team for a thorough evaluation and expert interpretation of test results. Our specialists from several disciplines work together and with you to develop a personalized course of treatment.

Henry Ford: Screening for liver disease

Most cases of cirrhosis (scarring and hardening of the liver) are preventable, if detected and treated early. We can also check for signs of hepatitis B and C (serious liver infections caused by viruses) through simple blood tests known as liver function tests (LFTs). Our physicians use LFTs as first-line screening for cirrhosis, hepatitis and other liver diseases.

At the Henry Ford Liver Disease Center, our liver specialists begin the diagnostic process with a thorough medical history and complete physical exam, which may include one or more of the following LFTs:

  • Liver enzyme tests: Certain enzymes in the liver help metabolize (process and use) proteins and amino acids. These tests check for higher-than-normal levels of these enzymes, which can indicate liver damage or disease.
  • Liver protein tests: The liver produces certain proteins to help fight infection. Low blood levels of these proteins can be a sign of liver damage or disease.
  • Bilirubin test: Bilirubin is a product of the breakdown of red blood cells, a normal process. People with liver damage or certain types of anemia tend to have higher levels of bilirubin in their blood.
  • Prothrombin time (PT): The liver produces prothrombin, a protein that helps the blood clot. This test measures the amount of time it takes the blood to clot. A high PT level can be a sign of liver disease, but it can also be higher than normal if you are taking blood thinners for other conditions.

Expert diagnostic testing for liver disease

Results for LFTs can be normal, even if you may have liver disease. In addition, abnormal LFT results don’t necessarily mean that you do have liver disease. Depending on your symptoms and overall health, you may need other testing to confirm or rule out a diagnosis. Find out more about liver conditions and treatments at Henry Ford.

Our liver specialists use the latest, most advanced diagnostic technology to check for other signs of infection or early liver damage, including:

Liver endoscopy

When it comes to accurate diagnosis, experience counts. Our team is among the most experienced in Michigan when it comes performing liver endoscopies, performing about 2,000 each year. Physicians around the region send their patients to us for endoscopy.

The endoscopic procedures we use at Henry Ford include:

  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): Our liver specialists use an endoscope (thin, flexible tube with a lighted camera) and X-rays to diagnose and treat abnormalities in the liver and surrounding organs.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS): This procedure uses an ultrasound device on the tip of an endoscope that uses sound waves to produced detailed images of the liver and nearby organs.

FibroScan: noninvasive liver scan

At Henry Ford, our liver disease center is the first in Michigan to offer FibroScan, a painless, noninvasive test to assess the severity of liver disease. FibroScan uses sound waves, similar to ultrasound, to measure the hardness of the liver.

We use this advanced technology to determine the severity and stages of liver diseases including:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Fatty liver
  • Hepatitis B and C

Imaging and radiology tests to diagnose liver disease

Throughout your treatment journey, your care team at Henry Ford monitors your health during treatment and follow-up care. We determine a diagnosis and assess how well your treatment is working with the latest, most advanced radiology and imaging technology, including:

  • CT scan: Sound waves and X-rays produce cross-sectional images of your liver and nearby areas.
  • MRI and MRCP scan: A magnetic field and radio waves produce detailed, cross-sectional images of the liver, gallbladder, pancreas and bile ducts without using radiation.
  • Doppler ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves show how well blood is flowing through the blood vessels in your liver, other organs and nearby structures in the abdomen.
  • PET scan: A special camera and radioactive substance show areas of cancer and how far they have spread.
  • Octreotide scan: Similar to a PET scan, this scan uses a special camera and a radioactive substance to detect and track the spread of cancer cells.
  • Angiogram: X-rays and a contrast substance produce images of the blood vessels in and around the liver to show blood supply to cancerous areas.
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