MSD Manual

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Evaluation of the Patient With a Liver Disorder

By

Danielle Tholey

, MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Last full review/revision Jan 2021| Content last modified Jan 2021
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Topic Resources

History

Various symptoms may develop, but few are specific for liver disorders:

Table

Family history, social history, and drug and substance use history should note risk factors for liver disorders (see table Risk Factors for Liver Disorders Risk Factors for Liver Disorders Risk Factors for Liver Disorders ).

Physical examination

Abnormalities detectable during a physical examination usually do not develop until late in the course of liver disease. Some common findings suggest a cause (see table Interpretation of Some Physical Findings Interpretation of Some Physical Findings Interpretation of Some Physical Findings ).

Table

Testing

Testing for hepatic and biliary disorders Laboratory Tests of the Liver and Gallbladder Laboratory tests are generally effective for the following: Detecting hepatic dysfunction Assessing the severity of liver injury Monitoring the course of liver diseases and the response to treatment... read more , including blood tests, imaging, and sometimes liver biopsy, plays a prominent role in the diagnosis of liver disorders. Individual tests, particularly those of liver biochemistry and excretion, often have limited sensitivity and specificity. A combination of tests often best defines the cause and severity of disease.

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