Our screenings

Liver Function

There are over 100 different types of liver disease, affecting over 200 million people in the UK each year and it's on the increase.

The liver plays an essential role in the body, digesting food and ridding the body of toxic substances.

The most common types of liver disease include:

  • Alcohol related liver disease - The liver is damaged by alcohol abuse
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease - A build-up of fat within the liver cells
  • Hepatitis - The inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection
  • Chronic Hepatitis - A severe, auto-immune form of hepatitis where blood cells attack and destroy liver cells

Symptoms of liver disease include:

  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Swollen legs and ankles
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Pale, bloody, or tar-coloured stools
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tendency to bruise easily

However, it's important to note that liver disease typically doesn't cause any obvious symptoms or signs until the condition is quite advanced and the liver is already damaged. This is where screening can be beneficial to catch it at an early stage.Over time, damage to the liver results in scarring, known as cirrhosis, which can lead to life threatening liver failure.

Causes of Liver Disease

Liver disease can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Obesity - Obesity is an increasingly common cause of liver disease.
  • Undiagnosed hepatitis infection - Caused by viruses that attack the liver, viral hepatitis comes in many different forms, the most common being hepatitis A, B, and C.
  • Alcohol misuse - When the liver has too much alcohol, it may not be able to function normally, leading to a chemical imbalance. If the liver is required to continuously detoxify alcohol, liver cells may be destroyed or altered, leading to fatty deposits, inflammation, or permanent scaring. Alcohol induced liver disease can also lead to liver cancer.
  • Genetics - Some forms of liver disease are caused by defective genes, such as Wilson disease, tyrosinemia, and hemochromatosis. These may be diagnosed in childhood or later in life.
  • Autoimmune Disorder - If a body's immune system attacks the liver or the bile ducts, it can result in inflammation and scarring, leading to a progressive form a liver disease.
  • Drugs and Toxins - The liver is responsible for processing most of the chemicals and medications that enter the body. This makes it vulnerable to acute or chronic liver disease caused by chemicals.

Screening for Liver Function

  • Alanine Transaminase (ALT) - This enzyme helps to process proteins. If the liver is injured or inflamed, the level of ALT in the blood usually rises.
  • Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) - This enzyme is usually found in liver cells. High levels of AST in the blood can indicate that the liver is injured in some way, however, it may also indicate that the heart or skeletal muscle is damaged.
    different forms, the most common being hepatitis A, B, and C.
  • Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) - This enzyme is mainly found in the liver cells around the bile ducts, and also in the bones. High levels indicate certain types of liver and bone diseases.
  • Albumin - The main protein produced in the liver, Albumin circulates in the bloodstream. Low levels of blood albumin can indicate some liver disorders or malnourishment.
  • Total Protein - This measures albumin and all of the other proteins in the blood.
  • Bilirubin - This is the chemical that gives bile its yellow/green colour. If you have high levels of bilirubin in your blood, it will make you appear yellow - known as jaundice.

If you require any further information about screening for liver function, or to arrange a consultation, please get in touch. Our skilled and experienced team are always on hand to provide assistance.