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How is fatty liver disease diagnosed?

Fatty liver disease often causes no symptoms. However, it may reveal itself if routine blood tests show elevations in certain liver enzymes, or, if symptoms are present, when a patient complains of fatigue and abdominal pain and has a liver that feels enlarged upon examination. In these situations, the doctor may order an ultrasound or a computed tomography (CT) scan to assess the liver, but only a liver biopsy (examination of a small amount of liver tissue) can confirm a diagnosis of fatty liver disease.

Blood tests are the usual method used to determine if you have fatty liver disease (FLD). Various types of blood tests will look for irregularity in the liver, including enlargement. Accumulation of fat in the liver can be identified through technology including ultrasound, CT scans, or MRIs; however, these tests cannot determine whether other characteristics of fatty liver are present, such as enlargement of the liver. A biopsy of the liver, obtained through insertion of a needle into the organ, can not only identify fatty liver but also give information about its causes and severity.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.