Give Me My Ultrasound!
Last updated: February 2022
Sometimes we have to speak up for what we want in life. This is especially true when it comes to our health care. Our doctors tell us what to do in order to get treated for hep C. We listen, and also give our input regarding our health concerns. Our generation is used to having a conversation with our medical care providers. That includes a routine ultrasound for your liver.
Even if you have a sustained viral response, or SVR, you may still have advanced liver disease. So just because you have beat HCV, the tests may not be over. Your doctor may order an ultrasound every 2 years if you are in the early stages of cirrhosis. My end stage liver required what they called “surveillance” every 6 months. That included a blood test for tumor markers and an ultrasound.
What to Do:
Ask your doctor to order an ultrasound based on your level of liver disease.
How to Prepare:
Your doctor may ask you to fast for several hours to keep your gall bladder calmed down. If you have not had food or drink it is easier for the technician to see your liver. It’s best if your gastric juices aren’t flowing. Wear loose clothing or be prepared to wear a peek-a-boo gown.
How It Is Performed:
A small device will skate around on your tummy on your right side. Your technician has a bachelor degree and knows exactly what to look for. They will use gel to help the picture to be clearer as it sends sound waves of your liver.
Where They Are Looking:
The tech will be watching a computer monitor that has images of your liver. They will take measurements of the portal vein to see if you have hypertension, which can cause varices. If you have any high pressure, blood will back up toward your heart and esophagus. In addition to the portal vein, the tech will measure and take pictures of both lobes of your liver.
What They Are Looking For:
They are looking for evidence of portal vein pressure. Another big stand out thing to watch for are tumors or spots on your liver. The tech can measure them and give the doctor a fairly accurate description of where they are.
I found this out first hand. After a January ultrasound was clean as a whistle, I wasn’t even worried about the next one. July came around and I went in like I had for many years. They found a good size tumor. The tech didn’t say anything, but my doctor’s staff told me an hour later in their office. It turned out to be malignant hepatocellular carcinoma. I’m so glad they caught it early and were able to shrink the tumor!
The trips in for an ultrasound felt like a waste of time for me – that is, until they found the liver cancer. I’m glad my doctor insisted on it. If your doctor has not talked to you yet, tell them, “Give me my ultrasound!”