Does a ct scan show all liver conditions? - British Liver Trust

British Liver Trust

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Does a ct scan show all liver conditions?

Natant profile image

Hi I am a woman 33 years old. I don't drink, I'm overweight at a size 14. I have been suffering with upper right quadrant pain for a few years. I have abnormal lfts. I recently had a ct scan that showed my gallbladder isn't working properly and I have a grossly fatty liver. No explanations or aftercare just been referred back to gp. Who said it's because of my weight no further action needed does everything liver related show up on a ct scan? nothing's been explained so feeling angry and let down. Big waste of time.

20 Replies

The simple answer is NO.

My husband was transplanted in Dec 11 and when they removed his liver they found over ten tumours which had not shown up on any ultrasounds or scans.

Lucky for us if they had found them he would not have been transplanted and dead by now.

You need to demand a referral to a Hep atoll gist

Good luck

Did anybody check your ferritin levels for iron overload. Genetic Haemochromatosis (GH) can cause liver similar to that affecting alcoholics. Get your GP to get your ferritin tested, it's a cheap, simple blood test. If diagnosed there's an effective treatment.

My iron levels were checked about 6 months ago I know they were slightly high then. Which is unusual as I've always had low iron. But I did have a hysterectomy 1 year ago. Which probably had a big effect.

Hi Natant,

So sorry you are going through this. Did they test you for AMAs (antimitochondrial antibodies)? The presence of these, along with abnormal lfts, is a strong indicator for PBC (primary biliary cholangitis) [was known as PB Cirrhosis]). I'm sure they will have checked, but might be worth asking.

Also, if it does prove to be a weight issue, then your GP still has a responsibility of care, and needs to give you proper guidance. Where I am, people get a free course at the local health centre with a trained therapist. This ends up being as much about mutual support and fellowship, as it is about ... diet, exercise, lifestyle, whatever, etc.

I'd go back to the GP and check out these and all the other points that folk on here have made.

Take care.

The fatty liver diagnosis 'could' be because of your weight, in which case unfortunately there is no magic pill the GP can prescribe and no magic treatment apart from a change of nutrition/diet that will help you lose weight, and with the weight loss you should also lose the fat in and around your liver.

There is a British Liver Trust leaflet on diet and liver disease: which you can either download or read online.

If you are someone who responds best to group support, then maybe join Weight Watchers or Slimming World. Definitely worth some extra tests as described above, and make sure you are not diabetic as this can cause fatty liver as can some long term medications.

They haven't checked for AMA's. The thing I'm worried about is them just saying its fatty liver although the doctors said no further action I'm fine! Like I say I have pain also I have been diagnosed with arthritis in the knees and ankles. No X-rays! Irritable bowel and vertigo because of my headaches dizzy spells and falling over they said this is causing my memory loss/issues. I'm constantly tired and ache so that's apparently fibromyalgia. You'd think they'd put them all together.

MisterX profile image
MisterX in reply to Natant


Abnormal LFTs, Dizzy spells, headaches, memory loss, tiredness. Upper right quadrant pain.

All consistent with liver issues. Liver issues - everybody here will tell you - should not be ignored...

As I see it, the CT scan appears to show fatty liver. Fatty liver is NOT a benign condition - it causes inflammation of the liver, and the inflamed liver cells become scarred - if this carries on long enough you have full on cirrhosis.

So your number one priority is to deal with the apparent fatty liver - Bolly's advice above was good, check for diabetes and then go all out to eat less but better. Get as much advice and support as you can on that - It's important. It's important anyway because if you have a liver issue, even if it's not fatty liver, you'll need to adopt the best diet you can so your body can cope. The reason to sort your diet out now though is to reduce the inflammation of the liver to give it a chance to heal.

It's entirely possible that the CT scan indicating fatty liver is blinding your GP to other possibilities, but if you have a liver condition this is a reasonable starting point in light of the CT scan, so I would say that you should do whatever it takes to start dealing with the fat issue and then follow up with your GP to see if there is any improvement in LFTs or to ask for a referral if not. It may take time to lose the fat from the liver cells, but you should see improvements in LFTs within a few weeks.

Best of luck.

PS - Do bear in mind that saying a person has fatty liver is not necessarily a declaration that they are fat - it happens to skinny people too - but that fat deposits in the form of small fat globules are permeating the liver. Like fois gras if one wanted to be horribly descriptive (Sorry).

Natant profile image
Natant in reply to MisterX

That's the thing mister x I have never had a bad diet I rarely eat breakfast but I now only have decafe tea no sugar. Always a light lunch i.e sandwich/toast and a square meal with my family for tea. I'm only guilt of having a bit of chocolate !because of ibs I always look 9 months pregnant by the end of the day. I excercise more to but my livers got very bad very quick. should probably also mention I've lost half of my hair. I've been told it won't come back. Just sick of being fobbed off as they were looking for gallstones on these recent test God knows why that's why they've left it even though my gallbladder is not working properly it's not contracting properly. I feel like a hypercondriac lol

Bolly profile image
Bolly in reply to Natant

There's usually a reason for someone having a higher body weight than the 'normal' range, and unless its muscle, then the extra weight is usually stored fat or stored fluid in body tissue. When you were diagnosed with IBS were you given any dietary or nutrition information? For example what do you know about fibre and carbohydrates and their connection to IBS, have you changed what you eat to allow for this? A high carb diet can result in fatty liver. How much of your daily intake is carbs do you think, and thats not just cake and biscuit and bread carbs but in vegetables and fruit. You say you dont have a bad diet, but most nutritionists would say not eating breakfast is bad nutrition for a start! It gives you low energy levels which will dip around mid morning and make you crave sugars/carbs. Toast is high carb and a sandwich has carbs, also how does bread sit with your IBS? The bloating you get later could be gluten intolerance from the lunch. How are your portion sizes? whether you eat 'healthy' food or not, look at the size of your fist when clenched and then only put that amount of food on your plate. Its surprising small isnt it! Especially when we realise how much goes onto restaurant plates etc when we eat out.

When people ask about a healthy diet, especially when the liver is under stress, many say they eat something like this: a couple of poached eggs for breakfast with tomato or mushroom. A salad for lunch with either fish or chicken and no mayo on the salad maybe a light olive oil dressing. A portion of protein with vegetables for evening meal, perhaps rice rather than potato but not too much carbohydrate. Does this fit with your 'healthy' diet and does it suit IBS also?

Natant profile image
Natant in reply to Bolly

Oh yes and my weight keeps rising.i have that much swelling now I look like the stay puffed marshmallow man.

hapisusan profile image
hapisusan in reply to Natant

Have you been tested for Underactive Thyroid? This can cause some of your problems, I found that some of my fatigue , bloating etc. was caused by this I also have fatty liver but some of this is put down to my different medications, I recently has a gallstone removed but because of scar tissue they could not remove the gall bladder, I still am getting some of the pain and symptoms, I had a further scan and asked why scar tissue hadn't been picked up and was told unless it's surrounded by fluid it can't be seen, went back to doctor with a list of my symptoms because i always forget only focusing on the worst ones and asked if this could be PBC, result was doctor kept my list to scan in to my notes and has had me tested for antibodies, both liver and rheumatoid along with other things. She told me that when scans do not find a problem that only leaves IBS which I have also suffered from for years, and when I asked if the scar tissue could cause some of the nausea was told it was a possibility, don't give up. write all symptoms down and ask what else it could be.

I understand where your coming from bolly, yes I was told no sugar in tea, no fried food, I never have fried food anyway always grilled or oven cooked it's how I was taught by my diabetic mum,decafe tea and cut down on sugar and fat. Would u honestly say 1 sml slice of toast was too much bread or a cob. I'm shocked. I guess a slimming world diet is no good.My brother for instance drinks alcohol every day minimum 8 pints full days drinking on the weekend, only eats take always and is about 8 stone over weight. His lfts are fine his liver is fine. Honestly don't know where I'm going wrong, starting to sound like I have a fatty liver because I fat and unhealthy. Funny that's what the docs presume too. Well what do I know. Less excercise no watching what I'm eating and I could become a heavy drinker maybe that will fix me up.

Hi Natant, you are being fobbed off by your health professional and need to push this matter further.

A diagnosis of fatty liver needs further follow up whether that be by a gastroenterologist or even better a hepatologist so that you can manage the issue going forward and get a proper diagnosis as to cause & degree of your current situation. Some of the things you've mentioned could possibly indicate that your liver is already seriously struggling.

Fatty liver is reversible, however, if it goes too far and turns to cirrhosis you could be in a sticky situation. Even seemingly perfectly healthy people can develop fatty liver - when my 8 stone, stick thin, 5ft 5, fit and very, very active hubby was first diagnosed with cirrhosis and they were seeking the cause one of the first things his gastroenterologist investigated and ruled out was the possibility it could have been NAFLD - he said that even though hubby was 'built like a racing snake' it could still have been fatty liver, however, in his case it turned out it wasn't (it was AIH).

You need to be a little more assertive and request a referral to a hospital consultant so that you can receive proper guidance and treatment. If your gall bladder isn't working properly and you have the other digestive issues you definitely need some further investigations. Please push for this referral.

Wishing you all the very best.

Katie :) x

It turns out my docs are defo fobbing me off. I found out today The specialist I was seeing was just to look at my gallbladder, that's why he referred me back to the gp. So that the gp could refer me to a liver specialist. So I've booked in with a different gp on Tuesday. Fingers crossed I'll get sorted.

Hi Nat.

People don't get fatty liver simply from being "fat and unhealthy". Have a look at the British Liver Trust page on the condition and you will see many other things cause fatty liver, including diet; diabetes (you say your mother is diabetic, have you been tested to see if you are insulin resistant as this pre-disposes people to fatty liver?); high cholesterol, too much cholesterol and triglyceride in the blood is a cause - has the GP checked yours?; Some medications cause fatty liver, have you been on any long term meds since your IBS diagnosis, or since the hysterectomy?; Polycystic ovaries cause fatty liver, has any connection to the reason for your hysterectomy been discussed/investigated?

If the GP has not considered any of these possibilities, then maybe change GP.

Sounds like there is a lot more to your medical history than your original post would suggest. I don't know what your BMI is, but a size 14 to me doesn't sound like someone who is very overweight. And as the BLT page shows, its not necessarily a weight related condition anyway.

You say your weight is increasing, do you think this is fluid retention rather than stored body fat?

No i don't think a slice of bread/toast is a large meal, but I do think its worth considering a reaction to the gluten in the slice of bread, if you feel bloated later on and if you already have IBS.

Assuming your diet/nutrition is not the problem then the other causes of fatty liver need looking at.

Fatigue and aches and pains often go with autoimmune hepatitis, have you been tested for that, as it could be that instead of fibromyalgia. How long ago was the fibro diagnosis and have you been on any long term medication for that?

A referral to a gastroenterologist (particularly with your history of IBS) with an interest in livers sounds the way to go, hope you get to see someone soon.

And PS your brother's liver probably isnt fine but is probably compensating well at the moment so doesnt show abnormal blood results. You could watch together.

Natant profile image
Natant in reply to Bolly

I'm only on omeprazole and buscopan. I try to avoid pain killers where possible but do have occasional cocodomol. Gonna have a good chat with my new gp 2moro. The hospital rang me and said I need to see a liver specialist as it would seem the gp sent me to a gallbladder specialist before.

Bluehills profile image
Bluehills in reply to Natant

If the hospital rang you, there's a good chance that someone will have got you on their radar - and far more chance they'll know what they're doing.

So sorry to hear of all you're going through, and I'm absolutely disgusted by your GP. Hopefully the different Dr will see things differently. You could write a prepared list of questions & symptoms down to take in with you - a timeline of what you've developed would be helpful for you to review what's happened as well. For example, sudden hair loss is a sign that something is definitely not right - then, with the pain etc, you have a lot to remember to talk about. Drs seem to take you more seriously when you've prepared in this way. Another good tip is to go for a newly appointed Dr - they seem to look at things with a fresh pair of eyes & not be so jaded or cynical. .

Size 14 might be overweight, but it's not dramatically so - focus on the other symptoms & don't be fobbed off. If necessary, take a friend in with you to help. They can often be more assertive than the sufferer.

Natant profile image
Natant in reply to Bluehills

Thanks bluehills, it is a new young gp I'm going to see. And I have done a list I'm ready x

Hi I know exactly how you feel, hardly over weight at size 14.also have fatty liver and gallstones, only advice lose weight. I, am finding it hard to lose any weight doing 2 hours a day in the gym and eating healthy. Like you say no help or after care. Good luck.

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