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What tests are used to diagnose gallbladder problems?

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To diagnose gallbladder problems, doctors may order tests such as liver function tests, amylase or lipase blood tests, complete blood counts, ultrasound testing and abdominal X-rays, reports WebMD. Other diagnostic tests include computed tomography scans; hydroxy iminodiacetic acid, or HIDA, scans, magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, or MCRP; and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP.

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Full Answer

Liver function tests help doctors identify the presence of gallbladder disease, while checking the levels of amylase or lipase, which are digestive chemicals made in the pancreas, lets them detect pancreatic inflammation, explains WebMD. An abdominal X-ray also enables doctors to detect gallstones and other signs of gallbladder disease. A complete blood count involves examining various blood cell types, such as white cells, to check for infection.

Ultrasound testing creates images of the gallbladder and intra-abdominal organs using sound waves, whereas a computed tomography scan produces clear X-ray photos of the abdominal organs, states WebMD. A HIDA scan involves administering hydroxy iminodiacetic acid to a patient and measuring gallbladder-emptying ability once the gallbladder absorbs the radioactive material.

MRCP creates clear pictures of the gallbladder using magnetic resonance imaging, according to WebMD. In comparison, ERCP requires inserting a tube into the patient's throat, stomach and small intestine. Once the tube is in place, the doctor injects dye for absorption by the abdominal organs, allowing him to view X-ray images of the ducts of the gallbladder, pancreas and liver.

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