How do doctors diagnose primary biliary cholangitis (PBC)?

To diagnose PBC, a doctor will ask about your medical and family history, do a physical exam, order blood tests and other medical tests. Doctors use a blood test to look for a specific substance in the blood called anti-mitochondrial antibody (AMA). The presence of this substance almost always confirms PBC. Other blood test results in patients with PBC may reveal higher than normal levels of liver enzymes and higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Blood work, specific for liver disease, will also be checked.

If you do have PBC, your doctor may also use an ultrasound test, which provides images of the liver and the bile ducts. Ultrasound enables doctors to see any other abnormal findings in the liver. Sometimes, a doctor will perform a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. In this test, your doctor removes a small piece of the liver using a small needle and looks at it under a microscope.

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