Your doctor will do a physical exam to evaluate your overall health and do additional tests to check your liver. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention there are several different tests your doctor may order:
*Two blood tests are done to confirm if you have Hepatitis C. The first blood test looks for “antibodies” to the Hepatitis C virus. Antibodies are released into your bloodstream when a person becomes infected. If the test comes back positive for HCV antibodies then a second blood test is done to confirm by looking for the presence of the Hepatitis C virus. If this test comes back positive it means the Hepatitis C virus is currently in the blood.
*Liver Function tests, also called a liver panel which is a specific blood tests to determine if your liver enzyme levels are elevated, this shows how well your liver is working.
*A genotype test that determines the type of Hepatitis C virus strain you have.
* A viral load test (RNA) is done to determine the amount of virus present in your body.
*An ultrasound exam that shows a visual image of your liver.
*A liver biopsy, which is removal of a tiny bit of your liver, to see if there is structural damage.
*A FibroScan, which is also called, transient elastography. It is a non-invasive procedure. No needles or IV’s are used. The technology measures the velocity of the sound wave passing through the liver and then converts that measurement into a liver stiffness measurement. This helps grade the liver condition for damage. A Fibroscan is most often done in place of a liver biopsy.
*MRI or CAT scan’s may also be done, depending on your physicians recommendations.
Important to Know
The Center for Disease Control & Prevention as well as other credible medical resources, recommend a second confirmatory blood test be done. Antibody levels of the HCV virus may not yet be detectable in the first 4 weeks of infection.
Without treatment the patient will develop chronic hepatitis C, which can lead to liver function impairment, liver scarring (cirrhosis), cancer and liver failure.
Patients need to be aware of how to manage the disease, prevention measures to take from spreading HCV and treatment.