Liver tests, diagnosis and screening

There are over 100 types of liver disease, which affect around two million people in the UK. The actual figure may be much higher, as many cases of liver disease go undiagnosed.

If your GP suspects you have a liver problem, they may suggest a routine blood test to:

  • Assess how well your kidneys and liver are working
  • Check haemoglobin levels (to see how much oxygen is being transported around the body by your red blood cells)
  • Check your white cell count (to check how well your immune system is working).

This helps to give your doctor a better idea of your general physical health.

If liver disease is suspected, more specific blood samples may be needed to test for viruses and antibodies common to disorders of the liver. Tests may also be requested to check for genetic or hereditary conditions. You might need to have imaging tests (such as ultrasound, a CT scan or an MRI scan) or an endoscopic procedure (where a tiny camera is used to investigate what’s going on inside the body) to enable doctors to get the full picture.

All of these tests are explained below, and in the full publication which you can download on this page

Please note that this page, and the corresponding publication, do not cover testing for viral hepatitis. For more information on testing for hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, see our Testing for viral hepatitis fact sheet.