Enlarged Liver

Any advice on whether it's possible to have an enlarged, fatty liver but LFT results to be normal? The main thing that is worrying me is the fact the liver is enlarged which to me means there is some kind of problem going on!!!? If my results come back normal should I still insist on a referral to see a specialist to find out the underlying cause?

I have been putting up with pain under my right ribs for quite sometime now which makes me feel very ill and debilitating. Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my post.

26 Replies

  • Hi

    You should request an appointment with a Hepatologist ASAP. Normal liver enzyme levels do not always mean there is nothing wrong when your liver when it is enlarged.

    Right up until my husband had his transplant they didn't realise just how bad his liver was as the enzyme levels were reasonable. He was actually on the list because all of the other symptoms which were affecting his body that were due to the liver not working properly but his body was trying to compensate for it. He was turned down for transplant at the first assessment and yet within a month his hepatologist referred him back and he was put on the list. When they removed his liver his was told that another 6 months he would have been a gonna. Even though they had done all the scans necessary and tested his Alpha Feto Protein ( a test for liver cancer) they all came back negative. Yet when they removed the liver just a few weeks later it was full of undetected Tumours. I am not saying that you have anything like this but it shows you how even with modern technology in medicine not all problems are detected. In our case it was lucky that the tumours remained undetected as he would not have been given a transplant as the amount of tumours were outside "The Milan Criteria" when you are only allowed to have one large or two small tumours to be eligible for transplant.

    So please push for an appointment in the appropriate clinic.

    What area of the country are you in?

  • Hi carmik,

    I am so sorry to hear of your husbands previous problems. It must be such a relief to your family now that he has finally got his liver transplant. Thank you for all the information, it's been such a worry suffering pain for such a long time and not being listened to or being palmed off with meds like they are going out of fashion and never one considering my liver until recently :(

    I will be ringing for my LFT results tomorrow but I have a feeling I will be told they are ok because when I was given the results of my ultrasound a couple of weeks ago, the GP said everything looks normal (enlarged/fatty and a couple of cysts in my liver) This rings alarm bells to me as it tells me 1. there's an obvious reason it's enlarged 2. I only have one kidney. 3. I had a huge carcinoma in my kidney 6 years ago which wouldn't have been found if I hadn't have gone for a private CT scan as my gp let me down (again) and put all my pain down to a bad back/degenerative/arthritis....

    I will be asking for a referral to a Hepatologist then I will be moving to a different GP as soon as I can. I can't continue to live with all this pain and discomfort. I suffer with joint pain arthritis and I've also been told I have something called fibromyalgia which with hindsight I think it is all due to my liver problems. I had to finish work as I no longer had the energy to get through a day.

    Thanks again for taking the time to message me - it's good to have other people's take on things and a relief to know their are people out there who are going through a similar thing and understand the problems we are faced with.

    I am originally from the North of England (Lancashire) but currently live in South Wales where unfortunately the waiting times/lists are shocking - I had to wait 8 months for my ultrasound so it doesn't fill me with confidence :(

    Take care xx

  • Hi Carmik i had an ultrasound scan 2 weeks ago and they discovered a tumour on my liver and also my liver is enlarged, i feel tired all the time and dont have the energy or strength that i used to and im only 27! I have lost roughly 2 and a hlaf stone since end of october 2014 and whenever i eat i get terrible cramps sometimes with diarrhea, all my blood tests are normal, i also have swollen nodes in my neck (im away to have an ultrasound for this also) and am due to get mri scan next week. Could this be cancer even though blood tests are ok as really dont feel well and getting frustrated the fact blood os coming back ok yet i still feel crap. Thanks x

  • Sorry Northern lass cant help but wanted to say my case is similar to yours.. I have pain in the liver area yet all test results are "normal" Have had ultrasound and firboscan which are normal and seen a Hepatologist who said something would show up on these tests if it was your liver..

  • Hi sunflower1, Thanks for your reply - how long have you had pain in your liver? Mine has been going on for 3 years!! I remember 6 months prior to this I had such a terrible episode of pain under my right ribs which radiated around the back too. This was put down to possible shingles but I never did get any spots/rash. I feel now that this was the start of all my problems and what ever it was (possible virus) has changed me from a very out going hard working person to someone who only ventures out at the weekend when hubby is home to take me shopping - even then, I can't wait to get back home.

    What are you planning to do now that they have said your ultrasound and fibro scan are clear? You must be worried too, let me know what they say and if they intend to do any further tests/scans?

    Take care, hope it all goes well. xx

  • A few years now I suppose, it does seem to get worse after I drink. I have itchy skin as well but no rash, pins and needles in my hands and feet.What next.. Nothing to be honest, there is nothing more I can do, my last appointment last week was with a dermatologist regarding the ictchy skin but he couldnt find to cause either. I have to go bck to docs again this week as one of my bloods was a bit abnormal but it wasnt a liver one, its the electrolyties. I do drink too much so its probably all related to the wine to be honest. Sorry for your pain and I hope you get some answers soon. Take care.

  • What a worry especially when they can't find a reason for the pain or itching! At least you know it is connected to your drinking but still, it can't be just the drink otherwise lots of people would suffer similar symptoms I would have thought?? Good luck when you go back to the doctor this week, hopefully they will suggest further tests.......

    I have itching too but no rash. It will be interesting to see what my LFT results are tomorrow when I ring the surgery. :(

  • All the docs i have seen say its not liver related?? Iam just going on what i have researched. I really don't know what other tests can be done now... Lfts fine, scans fine, ana fine. Did you say your scan..ultrasound showed something?

  • Up to now I have had a ultrasound (which is when they told me my liver was fatty and enlarged) looks like my LFT are normal too. What scans did you have and what is ANA? Sorry this is all new to me so still trying to understand everything..........

  • have just read this-it could be a repeat episode of shingles-can be very persistent-try this which I know works for a lot of people. Get some Peppers(Capiscum) red or green and mash them into a pulp and rub into flesh in the affected area-if it's shingles-there should be some relief from pain-if it's liver or something else then sorry it won't help.

  • have just read this-it could be a repeat episode of shingles-can be very persistent-try this which I know works for a lot of people. Get some Peppers(Capiscum) red or green and mash them into a pulp and rub into flesh in the affected area-if it's shingles-there should be some relief from pain-if it's liver or something else then sorry it won't help.

  • Thanks for the advice - I now believe that my pain has been down to my liver and not shingles which is why I've suffered all this time.....

  • I would certainly pursue this and be referred to a heptologist. Livers do not become enlarged for nothing.

  • Thanks ancientadolescent, I agree with you - I'm wondering if the fact I only have 1 kidney may be putting my liver under strain some how? It amazes me why the doctors don't consider this. Our life in their hands unfortunately :( xx

  • hi northern lass, I would say the answer to your question is definitely yes, do you have any other symptoms other than pain in liver region? digestive issues? itching? fatty liver can definitely cause pain and blood counts be normal however I would go fo full liver panel not just the usual stuff GPs ask for. Do you drink alcohol? the liver may be inflamed and therefore slightly enlarged.

  • Hi briccolone, yes, I have fatigue, joint pain, itchy in the liver area - I'm not a drinker other than Christmas/weddings when I might have the odd one but I have never really been into alcohol luckily. thanks for getting back to me xx

  • right well as you're not a drinker your doctor should be explaining why the liver is enlarged-it's not

    normal plus how has the fatty liver been diagnosed? blood tests? ultrasound? have you tried changing diet-try avoiding sugary stuff or very fatty foods which may alleviate the pain-as others have said-your doctor needs to take the symptoms more seriously and stop fobbing you off especially given your medical history. I'm no expert but a years worth of reading various contributions on this forum leads me to the conclusion that GPs are pretty blase about fatty liver-it's not a benign condition. Keep us posted

  • Yes I had a ultrasound (which took 8 months of waiting) my gp gave me my results last week and told me I have an enlarged fatty liver with a couple of cysts. She didn't feel there was a problem and wait for the LFT result which I will ring for in the morning - I will keep you posted on what is said. Thanks again for your advice :)

  • Thanks for your reply. I do not know if having only 1 kidney can place more strain on the liver. You should discuss this with a heptalogist. I do know that, after a transplant there appears to be a balance between sufficient dose of anti-rejection medication ( cyclosporin and mycophylate ) and an adverse effect on kidney performance. Hope this is of use.

  • I will do - this is very useful thanks.

  • I have just had my LFT results which have come back normal.............?? Surely an enlarged painful liver warrants further investigation? I am in the process of changing my GP so hopefully things will get better :)

  • Hi Northern lass.. How VERY frustrating! Did you have an appointment to see the doc for your results. Whats next for you..Sorry I thinlk its called AMA....http://www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/liver-information/liver-conditions/primary-biliary-cirrhosis/#Diagnosis I had the test when I saw the Hepatologist last August which was negative.

  • No I called the surgery and one of the receptionists gave me them over the phone - I know the gp won't want to pursue it now that the LFT are normal which is very frustrating. We know our own bodies and it's just not normal to suffer so much pain and discomfort. I also have bloating lethargy burning/stinging and itching over the liver area. Thanks for the link - I am hoping the new doctor (once I'm registered) will do a referral to a Hepatologist asap. Was your tests done on the NHS and approximately how long did you have to wait? Thanks

  • Hi Northern lass. So they were all "normal" the LFTS?, have they not told you you have a fatty liver via the scan? What did they advise you to do about it? I get sometimes a stabbing sort of feeling in the liver area sometimes an ache, my hepatoloigst said it would be a dull ache all the time even though the liver doesnt feel pain.. Mine bloody does!!! If you get chance read though some of my older posts and you will see my story. I have now had 2 ulstasounds one last november and one december 2011 which were both "normal" I didnt wait long for the to be honest only a month or two at most ofr my ultrasounds, yes it was on the NHS. The Fibroscan was through the liver trust road show. Please keep me up to date with your progress. Take care.

  • Yes, I had the ultrasound in December and was told the result I was told was an enlarged fatty liver and also a few cysts. This is why the LFTS were requested. There was no follow up from the GP from my message only all results are clear??

    I will be registering with the new gp this Friday were hopefully, they will do a referral to a Hepatologist to investigate further. I get pain in my liver too (it's there all the time) I find it very debilitating at times I also feel like I have a lump of lead in my abdomen :(

    Thanks for all your information - I will check your previous stories and have a read through. Hope you get some further investigations soon - we wouldn't be suffering liver pain if it was normal!!

    Take care....

  • I would certainly push for referral to a specialist and for a full blood test and an mri and ultrasound scan. These will give a good view of what is happening. Best of luck.

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