Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Tests and procedures used to diagnose acute liver failure include:

  • Blood tests. Blood tests to determine how well your liver is functioning may include the prothrombin time test, which measures how long it takes your blood to clot. With acute liver failure, blood won't clot as quickly as it should.
  • Imaging tests. Your doctor may recommend imaging tests, such as ultrasound, to evaluate your liver. Imaging tests may show liver damage and may help your doctor determine the cause of your liver problems.
  • Examination of liver tissue. Your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove a small piece of liver tissue (liver biopsy). Tests of the liver tissue may help your doctor understand why your liver is failing.

    Because people with acute liver failure are at risk of bleeding during biopsy, the doctor may perform a transjugular liver biopsy. Through a tiny incision on the right side of your neck, your doctor passes a thin tube (catheter) into a large vein in your neck, through your heart and into a vein exiting your liver. Your doctor then inserts a needle down through the catheter and retrieves a sample of liver tissue.

Jul. 10, 2014

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