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understanding lab results
Feb 21, 2005

Hi Doc! I have had HCV since 1998.I get so frustrated when I get my labs and can't get a straight answer,so I'll ask you. What's my viral load mean other than it's up or down.My doctor thinks it's nothing for me to know but I want to know what it is. Also,what are the major things to check when I have a liver function done? Final ? If you do a liver biopsy and chirriosis shows+ then could you not take an x-ray and determine how much damage your liver has?Thanks for any help. Sue B

Response from Dr. McGovern

1. For hepatitis C, the virus level tells you nothing about liver damage. It is only helpful to know your virus level when you are starting therapy. Your physician should follow your RNA over time to be certain that you are getting a good response.

2. Liver function tests include ALT and AST. However other laboratories are also important if advanced liver disease is being considered. These blood tests tell your physician some important information about the function of your liver - albumin and INR. Also low white blood cell counts and low platelets could also accompany cirrhosis.

3. The best test to tell the kind of liver damage is a liver biopsy.

Dr. McGovern



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