How is biliary atresia diagnosed?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

The first step in diagnosing biliary atresia is a physical exam that includes a pressing on the baby's abdomen to check for indications of an enlarged liver or spleen. Then a doctor may perform several tests. Blood tests can test for levels of bilirubin that indicate biliary atresia. Urine, stool and blood samples can be taken to check on the functionality of the liver. Further testing may include an x-ray or ultrasound of the liver to see if there is proper function - these tests also help to rule out other causes of jaundice. A special liver scan, called a HIDA scan, can trace the path of bile through the liver and into the body to see if it blocked at any point. Finally, if other causes of the jaundice have been ruled out, the physician may call for a biopsy, which involves removing a small sample of liver tissue to be analyzed under a microscope. Your doctor may choose to do one or a combination of these tests, depending on your results and symptoms.

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