What you need to know about liver scans

Credit: Unsplash+.

Liver scans are important diagnostic tools used to examine the health of one of the body’s most vital organs.

The liver plays a crucial role in processing nutrients, filtering blood, and eliminating toxins.

When there’s a concern about liver disease or damage, doctors may recommend a liver scan.

This review delves into who needs a liver scan, the different types available, and what the procedures entail, all explained in straightforward terms.

Who Needs a Liver Scan?

Individuals who may require a liver scan include those with symptoms of liver disease, such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), abdominal pain, severe fatigue, or unexplained weight loss.

Those with risk factors for liver disease also fall into this category; this includes heavy alcohol use, a family history of liver disease, obesity, and conditions like hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Regular monitoring through liver scans can help in early detection and management of liver conditions.

Types of Liver Scans

There are several types of liver scans, each serving different purposes and providing various kinds of information:

Ultrasound: A liver ultrasound is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create images of the liver. It’s often the first step in evaluating liver size, detecting masses, and assessing signs of liver diseases like fatty liver or cirrhosis.

CT Scan (Computed Tomography): A CT scan of the liver provides more detailed images than an ultrasound, using X-rays to assess the liver’s structure and to detect tumors, abscesses, or other abnormalities.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the liver. It’s particularly useful for identifying liver tumors and examining the liver’s blood vessels.

Liver Biopsy: While not a scan, a liver biopsy is a procedure where a small sample of liver tissue is removed for examination under a microscope. It’s considered the gold standard for diagnosing certain liver conditions.

FibroScan: Also known as transient elastography, this non-invasive test measures liver stiffness, which can indicate fibrosis or scarring of the liver.

Procedure Details

The procedure for each type of liver scan varies:

Ultrasound: You may need to fast for several hours beforehand. The technician applies a gel on your abdomen and moves a handheld device (transducer) across the area to capture images.

CT Scan: Preparation might include fasting and possibly ingesting or being injected with a contrast dye to improve image quality. You’ll lie on a table that slides into the CT scanner.

MRI: Similar to a CT scan in terms of preparation, but it may take longer and requires lying still in a narrow tube, which can be challenging for people with claustrophobia.

Liver Biopsy: Performed under local anesthesia, this procedure involves inserting a needle through the abdomen to collect liver tissue. It requires careful post-procedure monitoring for complications.

FibroScan: Requires fasting for several hours. A probe is placed on the skin, and vibrations are sent to the liver to measure stiffness.

The Importance of Liver Scans

Research evidence supports the use of liver scans for early detection and management of liver diseases.

Early diagnosis can significantly impact the treatment and management of liver conditions, potentially preventing progression to more serious stages like cirrhosis or liver cancer.

In conclusion, liver scans are valuable tools in diagnosing and managing liver diseases.

Whether you’re experiencing symptoms of liver disease, have risk factors, or need regular monitoring for an existing condition, understanding the types of liver scans and what they entail can help demystify the process.

As medical technology advances, liver scans continue to play a crucial role in enhancing liver health outcomes.

If you care about liver health, please read studies about Fatty liver disease linked to severe infections and findings of A new drug for weight loss and liver health.

For more information about liver health, please see recent studies about All types of coffee could help lower the risk of chronic liver disease and results showing that Whole grains could benefit people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.