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The Windows to Your Liver

By August 19, 2008

How can you see into your liver? Let's face it: the liver isn't an easy organ to access. It's tucked safely under your ribcage, just below your diaphragm on the right side of your body. There is, however, a way to see inside, almost as if you were looking through a "medical window." Using today's medical technology, doctors are able to find out incredible amounts of information about your liver. For people with hepatitis, it's important to know what's going on in the liver. Doctors need to know this in order to accurately diagnose and design a treatment plan. As a hepatitis patient, you need to know how doctors get this information.

Blood tests are probably the most common way. To me, I think it's incredible that we can learn so much about a relatively hard-to-get-to organ from our blood. If this intrigues you, too, I explain more about this in Blood Tests for Hepatitis C.

Nobody likes to get poked and prodded with needles, especially with one big enough to actually sample a piece of your liver. As uncomfortable as this may sound, for people with hepatitis, this is a good thing. Sometimes doctors need to see exactly what's going on inside your liver. The biopsy is a clever way to actually remove a small piece of liver tissue and study it.

Finally, there's also imaging technology, like CT scans and MRIs. These powerful machines figuratively turn our entire abdomens into giant windows, bringing light to a hidden organ. Of course, a combination of all three are sometimes necessary. To me, I'm just happy we have the ability to "peek" inside. For more information about all these methods and more, check out Diagnosing Hepatitis.

Image courtesy of Alexandar Iotzov/stock.xchng

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