Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention of Jaundice:

Jaundice is a yellowish or greenish pigmentation of the skin and whites of the eyes(sclerae) due to high bilirubin in the blood. It is also known as icterus.

Updated: August 18, 2020

Jaundice is a yellowish or greenish pigmentation of the skin and whites of the eyes(sclerae) due to high bilirubin in the blood. It is also known as icterus. The color of the skin and sclerae varies depending on the levels of bilirubin. Yellow skin and sclerae are an indication of mildly elevated levels, while highly elevated levels display brown.

Diagnosis of Jaundice:

Jaundice can be diagnosed based on the patient's history and physical examination. The physical examination includes:

  • examination of the abdomen to feel for masses or tumors.
  • checking the firmness of the liver in which, a firm liver indicates cirrhosis, while a rock-hard liver indicates cancer.

If the cause of the symptoms cannot be identified by physical examination, then it may require blood tests to check levels of bilirubin. Some of these tests include:

Bilirubin Tests :

If the bilirubin levels are found to be high then the usual range, jaundice can be confirmed. Hemolysis is confirmed if the unconjugated bilirubin level is high relative to conjugated bilirubin.

Complete Blood Count (CBC):

This test is done to measure the levels of red blood cells, leukocytes (white blood cells), and thrombocytes (platelets). If the levels are high that indicates jaundice.

Hepatitis A, B, and C Tests:

This test will determine which type of virus has caused the infection.

Liver Function Test:

A liver function test can be done to find out whether or not the liver is functioning properly. The severity of jaundice is determined by this test.

If an obstruction of the liver is suspected, few imaging tests are recommended to look into the structure of the liver. Some of these tests include: 

MRI scan :

This type of scan uses magnetic signals to create image slices of the soft tissues of the human body.

CT scan :

This type of imaging test uses a thin X-ray beam to create image slices of soft tissues in the body.

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) :

This is a procedure that combines endoscopy and X-ray imaging.

Abdominal ultrasound:

This procedure uses high-frequency sound waves to create a two-dimensional image of the soft tissues inside the human body.

Liver Biopsy:

A liver biopsy can be done through your skin with a needle, taking a sample of tissue from your liver which is examined under a microscope. It does not require any surgery. Usually, an ultrasound is used to guide the doctor while taking the biopsy sample. This test can determine how infection or inflammation has affected your liver. It can also be used to sample any areas in your liver that appear abnormal. A liver biopsy is useful in checking for inflammation, cirrhosis, cancer, and fatty liver. 

Treatments for Jaundice:

Treatment of jaundice varies based on the specific causes and severity of the disease in order to select suitable treatment options. 

Jaundice caused by: 

  • hepatitis may be treated with anti-viral or steroid medications.
  • any type of obstruction such as a blocked bile duct may be treated through surgery to remove the obstruction. 
  • anemia is treated by increasing the amount of iron in the blood. This can be done either by taking iron supplements or eating more iron-rich foods.
  • medications are treated by selecting an alternative medication and by discontinuing medications that caused jaundice.


Prevention of Jaundice:

Jaundice is related to the function of the liver. So to prevent jaundice it is essential to maintain this vital organ's health by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and not exceeding recommended amounts of alcohol consumption.


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