If your liver appears “unremarkable” on an MR angiogram, does this mean it’s healthy?

An MR angiogram impression report may state that your liver is “unremarkable.”

This means it’s normal in appearance. But does this automatically mean it’s actually normal in function?

“There is a big difference between liver function and structure,” says Michael Blume, MD, a gastroenterologist at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, Baltimore.

“Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI look at liver structure, and are good tests for determining if there is a liver mass or obstruction in the bile duct, but are often very poor indicators of liver function,” explains Dr. Blume.

“Just because the liver appears normal on a scan structurally, does not mean that that particular person doesn’t have a problem with liver inflammation, such as some type of hepatitis, etc.”

Why is the patient having the MR angiogram or other test in the first place?

“Remember that one orders a test to answer a specific question; to determine what test to order, one needs to first address what question needs to be answered,” says Dr. Blume.

“Determining if one’s liver is functionally normal may involve a number of different blood tests, and often may require a liver biopsy (sampling of liver tissue) in certain specific situations.

“It is very important to interpret laboratory test information as well as imaging study results, in the proper context, and not as stand-alone values.”

In practice for 20+ years, Dr. Blume treats over 65 conditions including abdominal pain, appetite loss, blood in stool, celiac disease, colon cancer, esophageal and liver disease, gas and IBS.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 


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