Your family doctor can order a blood test to detect the hepatitis virus. If testing is positive, further evaluation may be requested from the doctor or a specialist. The following types of doctors or medical specialists may be involved in diagnosis, treatment or management for Hepatitis
While your doctor has a number of tools to diagnose hepatitis, s/he will use some more than others. Usually, doctors diagnose hepatitis using a combination of tests. In some cases, doctors will screen for hepatitis to test specific high-risk populations, such as prison inmates or people born or originating from highly endemic areas.
Antibody tests - Doctors can test the blood for IgM and IgG antibodies specific to Hepatitis A or Hepatitis B. Likewise, doctors test for different antibodies to confirm or exclude the possibility of Hepatitis C.
Direct viral measures - Once antibodies identify viral Hepatitis, useful PCR tests for HBV and HCV can be requested which are direct measures of the amount of virus in the blood.
Liver enzymes - Normally the liver keeps tight control of its enzymes, but when the liver is damaged, these enzymes can escape into the blood. Tests can determine if these enzymes are in the blood and tell how much is present. The three most common enzymes doctors use to test for liver damage are alanine aminotransaminase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and gamma glutamyl transaminase (GGT).
Other advanced tests - Imaging technology such as ultrasound, computerized axial tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a liver biopsy may be requested when necessary.
Diagnosing viral hepatitis is fairly straightforward. Once a diagnosis as been made, you can begin treatment. Treatment for hepatitis focuses on managing the syndrome in order to prevent further damage to the liver. To learn about the most common forms of hepatitis treatment, read the Treating Hepatitis section that follows for more information of Hep A, B and Hepatitis C treatment.