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 for your blood to clot. If you have acute liver failure, your blood doesn'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. For people with a risk of bleeding during biopsy, such as those with acute liver failure, the doctor may perform a transjugular liver biopsy. To do this, a tiny incision is made on the right side of your neck and a thin tube (catheter) is passed into a large vein in your neck, through your heart and down into a vein exiting your liver. Your doctor then inserts a needle down through the catheter and retrieves a sample of liver tissue.
Jul. 02, 2011