Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Tests and procedures used to diagnose primary biliary cirrhosis include:

  • Blood tests to check liver function. Liver function tests check the levels of enzymes that may indicate liver disease in general and bile duct injury in particular.
  • Blood tests to check for signs of autoimmune disease. An analysis of your blood may reveal anti-mitochondrial antibodies (AMAs) if you have primary biliary cirrhosis. These antibodies almost never occur in people who don't have the disease, even if they have other liver disorders. For that reason, a positive AMA test is considered a very reliable indicator of the disease. At the same time, a small percentage of people with primary biliary cirrhosis don't have AMAs.
  • Imaging tests to examine the liver. Imaging tests can be used to create pictures of your liver to look for abnormalities. Imaging tests may include ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT).
  • Removing a piece of liver tissue for testing. During a liver biopsy, a small sample of liver tissue is removed and examined in a laboratory, either to confirm the diagnosis or to determine the extent (stage) of the disease. Doctors withdraw the tissue through a small incision using a thin needle. Doctors may take more liver biopsies as time goes on to check the progression of the disease.
Aug. 01, 2014

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