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Health screening for liver, pancreas, gall bladder and bile duct conditions

  • Health screening for liver, pancreas, gall bladder and bile duct conditions

    Many diseases affecting the liver, pancreas, gall bladder and bile duct do not display symptoms until they are in the late stages. By the time symptoms appear, the organs may have already suffered significant damage.

    One way to detect such diseases early is to go for regular health screening. A comprehensive health screening includes tests that can detect liver, pancreas, gall bladder and bile duct diseases during the early stage, when treatment tends to be more effective.

    At Gleneagles Hospital, tests on the liver and for hepatitis are part of the basic General Screening package. Some screening packages also include abdominal ultrasound scans that can help detect tumours in the liver, gallstones, and inflammation of the pancreas and bile duct. See below for more information on some screening tests that may help in the early detection of health problems.

    Liver Study

    A liver study is a set of comprehensive tests to determine the condition of the liver using specific tests on the patient’s blood sample. It can also be used to discover symptoms from pancreas, gall bladder and bile duct diseases. The liver study includes tests for:


    Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment created by the breakdown of red blood cells. It is found in bile created by the liver, and is responsible for the yellow coloration in jaundice. High levels of bilirubin in the blood can point to liver, pancreas, gall bladder and bile duct diseases. Doctors may perform follow-up tests for patients with high bilirubin levels, in order to find the source of the problem.

    ALT and AST

    Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) are enzymes found in the blood. High levels of ALT and AST can be found in patients with acute liver damage, alcoholic liver disease, liver cancer and liver cirrhosis.


    Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme found in the blood that is mostly produced in the liver. High levels of ALP can be symptomatic of an obstruction in the bile duct, and also when cancer originating from other parts of the body has spread to the liver.

    Hepatitis Study

    A blood test can detect the existence of specific antibodies for hepatitis A, B and C that are created when the hepatitis virus is present, as well as the hepatitis B antigen specifically. If the test for the antibodies is found to be positive, then further tests might be carried out to confirm the existence of the hepatitis virus. 

    Patients who are using immunosuppressants, such as those who have received organ transplants, may not produce the antibodies due to their weakened immune systems. In these cases, if the patients are suspected to be suffering from hepatitis, they may need to go through in-depth tests that check for the existence of the hepatitis virus. These tests can also help the doctor determine the length of treatment required for the condition.

    Abdominal ultrasound

    An abdominal ultrasound is an imaging scan used to look at organs in the abdomen, including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and kidneys. An ultrasound machine sends out high-frequency sound waves that reflect off your internals, and the reflected waves are used to form images. Unlike x-rays, ultrasound scans do not expose the body to radiation.

    Ultrasound scans of the abdomen can be used effectively to check for inflammation of the gall bladder, blockages in the bile duct, increased liver and pancreas size due to diseases, and liver tumours. It can also be used to detect gallstones in the gall bladder or the bile duct.

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