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Regular Medical Tests required

Discussion in 'HEP C HIV' started by gk, Jan 27, 2004.

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  1. gk

    gk Guest

    Regular blood tests are an important part of managing your health with Hep C.

    ‘Liver function’ tests measure the amounts of certain enzymes and chemicals in your blood and can help to identify disease progression.

    A liver biopsy may sometimes be needed to see if your liver has been seriously damaged by HCV.

    Liver function tests

    ALT (alanine aminotransferase) is a liver enzyme which can ‘leak out’ into the bloodstream when liver cells are inflamed. The ALT test is the most important routine blood test for people with Hep C. The normal level for ALT is less than 49 units/litre – Severely elevated ALT levels over a period of time may be indicative of liver damage and require further investigation through liver biopsy. There are several other tests which are also used to monitor liver function, including AST, alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin and total protein.

    Liver biopsy

    A liver biopsy is the most accurate way of determining the degree of damage Hep C has caused to your liver, and whether or not you are developing cirrhosis. This involves removing a very small piece of your liver tissue through a thin needle that is inserted into your upper abdomen. The sample is then examined under a microscope. A liver biopsy is usually done at an outpatient’s clinic at a hospital. You will be given a local anaesthetic beforehand and painkillers will be provided if you need them – some people experience no discomfort at all while others may feel severe pain. You will also be required to lie still for a few hours after the biopsy is performed to reduce the risk of bleeding from your liver. While a liver biopsy is a relatively safe procedure, it is not without risks – some of them serious – and is not carried out as a routine part of managing your Hep C.

    The Hep C PCR test measures the amount of HCV in your blood. It may also be used to determine the HCV genotype(s) with which you are infected. As with undetectable HIV viral load, a negative HCV PCR does not mean you have cleared the virus.
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