The liver is the largest organ in the human body that performs over 500 functions in your body.
The liver lives on the upper right side of the abdomen, just beneath the diaphragm. It regulates numerous vital tasks like blood filtration, protein digestion, mineral storage, toxin eviction, and many more. It also regulates your metabolism and processes food nutrients. Now, if you experience any abnormality in your body due to liver disorder, doctors usually suggest several tests, including an ultrasound. Are you wondering what an ultrasound of the liver show about your health?
The ultrasound is an excellent way to examine the normal anatomy and irregularities in the liver. Its shape, masses, and light or darker lesion inform the doctor about several liver diseases like cysts, fatty liver, hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
What is a Liver Ultrasound?
The ultrasound, aka sonography or ultrasonography, is a diagnostic procedure where the doctor transmits high-frequency sound waves through your body tissue. The waves usually bounce back from your internal structure and create a photographic image or video on a monitor.
Now, what is a liver ultrasound? Is it different from a traditional ultrasound? The answer is yes. A liver ultrasound is mainly similar to a traditional ultrasound except for one part. A liver ultrasound examines blood circulation around the liver and provides images of blood vessel walls and surrounding tissues and blood flow through the blood vessels.
What does a liver ultrasound scan show?
What does an ultrasound of the liver show about your health? A liver ultrasound gives crucial information about any abnormalities of your liver. Doctors examine the density, masses, the brightness of the liver ultrasound scan to detect cysts, hepatitis, fatty liver, cirrhosis, etc.
In an ultrasound scan, it’s easy to distinguish cysts from solid masses. Simple cysts consist of a thin wall and fluid. It transforms as a darker center than solid masses on the scan. Now, what about complex cysts? Complex cysts usually contain lumps, nodules, calcifications, or multiple tissue bands. If you have complex cysts, doctors would be able to detect them from the solid parts.
Ultrasound can also inform about diffuse liver diseases like fatty liver, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. A fatty liver usually comes brighter in the scan than a normal liver. When the underlying problem is hepatitis, the scan of the liver becomes less bright. Does liver ultrasound show cirrhosis? Yes. A cirrhotic liver usually looks shrunken and lumpy.
With an ultrasound, many doctors suggest elastography to measure the elasticity of the liver. It can also assess the risk of fibrosis. In addition, the liver ultrasound can show increased bile ducts and fluid near your liver. Not only that, a liver ultrasound often shows the features of a few organs like the gallbladder, right kidney, and a tiny portion of your pancreas.
Can a liver ultrasound detect liver cancer?
Ultrasound can distinguish cancerous and non-cancerous liver masses as they differ in appearance and are distinguishable against the background tissues. However, there is one concerning issue: “window.” A good ultrasound window is crucial to fight against bone, calcification, and gas barrier and transform clear images.
When You Need an Ultrasound for Your Liver?
Several symptoms are laboratory findings that can inform about liver diseases. Examining your physical symptoms and test results, your doctor may recommend you a live ultrasound.
The symptoms are-
- Weight loss
- Abdominal swelling
- Early satiety
- Nausea or vomiting
- Palpable mass
- Coagulation problems
- Liver or spleen enlargement
How Do You Prepare for A Liver Ultrasound?
Before you take your ultrasound test, you must meet some essential steps that include-
- Do not eat any food or liquid for eight hours before the test
- Must arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time.
- Wear clothes that fit you easily
- Must take the medications that your doctor prescribed beforehand
What Happens During an Ultrasound Exam?
First, you need to lie face-up on a padded examination table for the test. The doctor will lather an odor-free warm gel, hypoallergenic, onto the abdomen. Then the sonographer will move a transducer around your abdomen and rib cage area to take pictures of your liver. During the procedure, you will have to maintain a continuous breathing pattern. Your doctor may ask you to lay in a different position. You may experience little pressure during the screening process. Finally, a radiologist may enter and talk to you about your liver health.
Terms you Need to Be Aware of on a Liver?
There are various confusing words your radiologist may use during the procedure. You may know about them properly to understand your liver scan report.
- Echogenicity: If the echoes look whiter than the average ones, your liver is echogenic or have echogenicity
- Lesion: A lesion is an area in the organs or the tissue where significant damage has been done due to an ulcer, or a tumor.
- Hypoechoic: When your liver looks more dense or solid than normally found, your liver is hypoechoic.
- Ascites: a significant buildup of fluids in the abdomen area
- Calculi: If the scan shows kidney stones, the report may mention a build-up of calculi
How Long Does an Ultrasound Take?
Usually, a liver ultrasound is an easy and painless process. However, how long does the procedure last? On average, the liver ultrasound takes around 30 minutes to perform. However, if you need a more detailed screening, it will take longer.
How Long to Get the Results?
I know waiting for the test result is worrisome and stressful. However, you can’t do anything but wait. The radiologists need time to examine the scan. Then they produce a detailed report on the findings. However, you will be happy to hear that the liver ultrasound results take approximately two working days. In exceptional cases, it’s two weeks at a maximum.
What Is an Echogenic Liver?
When the echoes from the ultrasound beam appear brighter or whiter than usual, you have an echogenic liver. This appearance usually indicates the presence of fatty liver (steatosis). In most cases, this condition is not severe or risky. However, increased echogenicity can sometimes result in cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis.
The liver is a crucial organ in your life that performs around 500 tasks in your body. However, seeing several symptoms, your doctor may suggest you have an ultrasound to check the abnormalities of your liver. However, what does an ultrasound of the liver show about your health? A liver ultrasound provides crucial information about liver diseases like cysts, hepatitis, or cirrhosis.
If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms indicating liver health issues, talk to Dr. David Nazarian. At My Concierge MD, the doctors specialize in providing you with the best assistance, diagnosis, and treatment that can help you manage your health issues.