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Liver Ultrasound

The organ can suffer a lot of damage without the victim feeling any pain. Also, until liver disease progresses to the point where the organ's functions are seriously impaired, the loss of hepatic function doesn't produce overt symptoms.

What this means is that traditional ways of diagnosing illness that rely on symptoms often fail to detect liver disease until it's too late to do much about it. Damage to the liver from progressive illness is often irreversible. The only effective treatment is preventative: catch the disease before it progresses too far and stop it from getting worse. The damage to the liver that has already occurred up to then is irreversible, but not sufficient to cause health problems. This approach relies on early detection, which due to the lack of symptoms requires diagnostic methods that look below the surface, such as a liver ultrasound.

What Can A Liver Ultrasound Reveal?

A liver ultrasound can show swelling and inflammation of the organ, abnormal growths, and anomalous developments in the internal tissues. A normal, healthy liver shows up as a smooth expanse of tissue in an ultrasound. Fatty deposits, fibrous growths, tumors and cysts, scarring, and swelling show up as breaks in this smooth tissue and as anomalies in size and shape. This allows an ultrasound to be used to diagnose many different liver diseases, including hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), fatty liver disease, fibrosis of the liver, cirrhosis of the liver, cysts, benign tumors, and liver cancer. Further diagnostic efforts are necessary when any of these results shows up in the ultrasound to distinguish between benign and cancerous tumors, to determine the cause of progressive liver diseases, to identify the viral or other cause of hepatitis, and so on. An ultrasound is very useful, but is only one diagnostic tool among many.


The liver is heavily involved in the digestion of fats. Because of this, eating food that is high in fat within a short time before the ultrasound is performed may negatively affect its accuracy. For this reason, doctors recommend a no-fat or low-fat diet for the 24 hours prior to the procedure.

The procedure itself is painless and can be performed on an outpatient basis. A clear, water-based gel is applied to the abdomen before starting the ultrasound procedure. The gel helps ensure that the source of the sound waves, called a transducer, is firmly in place against the skin, without pockets of air between them. The transducer is pressed against the abdomen and moved into different positions, directing the sound waves to different parts of the abdomen. The patient may be asked to move into different positions during the course of the procedure, which takes between thirty minutes and one hour. Normally, the ultrasound procedure does not cause any discomfort either during or afterwards.

Ultrasound is a method of medical diagnostic imaging that uses the principles of sonar to create visual images of what is going on inside the body. Ultrasound is less invasive and has less in the way of potentially injurious side effects than some other methods of medical imaging such as X-rays. Instead of radioactivity, ultrasound uses high-frequency sound pulses (too high-pitched to be audible) which travel at different speeds through different densities of body tissues and therefore can be used to generate visual images.

Why Use Ultrasound To View The Liver?

The liver is a complex vital organ that is subject to being damaged in a lot of different ways: cancer, viral infections, bacterial infections, damage from lifestyle factors such as alcohol abuse and obesity. One problem with detecting and treating liver disease and liver damage is that the liver doesn't have a lot of nerve endings in it.


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Liver Ultrasound