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Tests Used to Diagnose Gallbladder Problems

Gallbladder problems are diagnosed through various tests. These may include:

  • Liver function tests (LFTs), which are blood tests that can show evidence of gallbladder disease.
  • A check of the blood's amylase or lipase levels to look for inflammation of the pancreas. Amylase and lipase are enzymes (digestive chemicals) produced in the pancreas.
  • A complete blood count (CBC), which looks at levels of different types of blood cells such as white blood cells. A high white blood cell count may indicate infection.
  • The use of ultrasound testing which uses sound waves to image and make a picture of the intra-abdominal organs including the gallbladder.
  • An abdominal X-ray, which may show evidence of gallbladder disease, such as gallstones.
  • A computed tomography (CT) scan constructs a detailed X-ray images of the abdominal organs.
  • A HIDA scan. In this test, a radioactive material called hydroxy iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) is injected into the patient. The radioactive material is taken up by the gallbladder to measure gallbladder emptying function. This test also is referred to as cholescintigraphy.
  • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP), which uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce detailed pictures.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a procedure in which a tube is placed down the patient's throat, into the stomach, then into the small intestine. Dye is injected and the ducts of the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas can be seen on X-ray.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on August 21, 2014

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