Normal ultrasound and still an end stage liver disease?

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Chris_73
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 7/6/2008 12:13 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello everyone!

First I have to congratulate all the brave people writing here. It would do many healthy persons or people with no experience of nursing a seriously ill loved one a lot of good to read these topics.

Secondly I apologise if this topic is in the wrong place - however, I noticed that alcoholic chirrosis has been discussed here along with hep-related chirrosis. As we are speaking of the same illness (apart from the ethymology, of course) I suppose it's OK especially as people with hepatitis might face a situation like mine.

OK, here it comes: I'm more or less horrified as I try to get my possible liver symptoms diagnosed. However, neither the doctors or my lovely wife who is a trained nurse seem to take the symptoms very seriously. Yet I've been troubled by unexplained itching for the best part of last past two months, have a 15-year history of heavy drinking and my liver function tests are somewhat abnormal (incl. slightly elevated bilirubin). I have even spotted a small spider nauevus right in my nose!

The ultrasound, however, was completely normal and I'm otherwise healthy and in perfect condition, I even go running 2-3 times a week and lift weights. The doctor said that itching and spider naevi are end stage symptoms, and some of the blood work (like a high albumin level), the ultrasound and the lack of any other findings do not support an end stage liver disease. Doctors are not ready have a biobsy done yet as it's not without danger - they want to wait for at least two months or so to see how the blood test results develope.

But the waiting is driving me crazy, as I'm afraid to find new symptoms every waking hour. The craziest part is, that if itching really is a very late symptom, I could be very ill while everyone is just more or less shrugging the whole thing off. I'm feeling horrible thinking what a positive diagnosis would do to my loved ones, not sleeping well and so on.

---

So, I know that you can, at least in theory, be a completely functioning person and have a normal ultrasound... and yet be about to go down with a cirrhosis. But has anyone actually seen or heard this happen? All answers would be helpful..!

P.S. Sorry for the possible spelling and grammar errors, English is not my native language.

Butterflythree
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 954
   Posted 7/6/2008 1:24 PM (GMT -7)   
Chris, I just wanted to welcome you to the forum and say I am sorry you are not feeling well. I know that blood tests can be fairly normal and a person can have cirrhosis, but I am not sure about a normal ultrasound. I have been told that the only way to know for sure if a person has cirrhosis is by biopsy. My husband had biopsy's every couple of years. They all came back normal until has last one two years ago. The cirrhosis was pretty advanced. There are alot of knowledgable people here that may be able to answer your question. I will pray that you find the answers to your health problems and that you are cured soon.


Butterflythree
 
There is always hope!


Chris_73
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 7/6/2008 2:32 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you Butterflythree for your kind comment!

The strange thing here is that apart from the itching and the skin symptom (spider naevus) I am actually feeling perfectly OK! That's probably why, on top of the ultrasound, the doctors don't take my symptoms for real. And I would love to be able to shrug the symptoms and the abnormal blood tests off as well. However, with my drinking history I just can't do it. For almost all of my adult life I have drunk as much as a "real" alcoholic, I stand (and these days need, I'm afraid) a lot of booze.

I also understand that most people in this forum have real, diagnosticly proven conditions to worry about be the problems there own or a family member's. Still, this situation is a very disturbing one. And oh yes, reliable internet sources (Merck, Mayo) do say that a person can have a chirrosis and a clean ultrasound. However, some academic studies say that the chance is like 1/100, while others suggest that this happens quite often. confused

They also say in many sites that ultrasound is a very operator dependant test -> the more skillfull the radiologist, the more accurate the test results. Knowing this I had the test done in the best clinic in my region (even though my insurance did not cover this), the radiologist who did the test has written books on the subject...

---

My second post to this forum and already sound like a whiner. But hey, if a drunk should crawl out of the gutter with my drinking history and symptoms, the doctor would stamp the sign "cirrhosis" in his forehead in two minutes.

Butterflythree
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 954
   Posted 7/6/2008 2:46 PM (GMT -7)   
Chris, This place is especially for whiners (me being one of them). If you do have cirrhosis you can stop the damage just by stopping drinking. I know that is easier said than done for a lot of people. My husband drank until his diagnosis of cirrhosis two years ago. His cirrhosis is caused from hep C and alcoholism. So while stopping drinking has slowed down the progression, the hep C continues the damage. I had an uncle that died of cirrhosis when he was thirty-six years old. He had six kids. He was told to stop drinking, but he just couldn't. He only stopped after the damage was too severe and died a couple of months later. I wish you luck and will keep you in my prayers.
Butterflythree
 
There is always hope!


Chris_73
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 7/6/2008 4:42 PM (GMT -7)   
Butterflythree,

Yeah, I would't be here in the first place without this habit. You just stupidly think that if you are an academic person (for whatever that counts, I think not far as far as your liver entzymes are concerned) , are a good family man and excercise every other day the booze just can't get to you, or at least there would be warning signs. The weird thing, as mentioned, is that even the doctors don't seem to believe that anything is wrong.

I should drop the booze anyway, but as you mentioned it's not that easy. Of course I'm aware that if my fears would turn reality and I'm cirrhotic then every sip is a small step down. Still, as it is over midnight in a London hotel where I'm writing this, I wouldn't have the courage to write in this forum without my good friend in the whisky bottle.

Yet tomorrow morning I'll be having my full English breakfast feeling just all right, then I'll do what I have to do workwise and later arrive to a new hotel in a new city. All is fine as long as I can have my booze when the day is over, of course there can be some drinks before that with dinner or at the pub - how nice, how fine. Or it was fine before this constant itching...

Thank you B. for saying that you'll keep me in your prayers. That's something that we don't commonly say here in secular Europe, but it feels heartwarming.

Chris_73
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 7/6/2008 5:19 PM (GMT -7)   
... feeling embarrased to keep on posting to the first topic I myself opened, but as Butterflythree mentioned there seem to be many knowledgable people here, so for anyone who would be interested to know of the actual bloodtest pathology results (as they put it here in the UK) in my case:

ALT 37 (Upper Normal Limit 40)
AST 57 (UNL 35)
GGT 189 (UNL 70)
TOTAL BIL 24 (UNL 17)
ALB 53 (UNL 50)

-> AST > ALT, not good, BIL a bit high, not good, GGT surprisingly low (for a seriously heavy drinker). Albumin fantastic (should go down in serious liver damage).

Blood clotting etc within normal limits.

Pink Grandma
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 2445
   Posted 7/6/2008 8:14 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Chris and welcome to HealingWell. This forum maybe be titled Hepatitis but we actually cover almost any liver disease. So you are on the right forum. Chris if you even suspect that you may have cirrhosis please read up on our older posts. If you do indeed have it then you really do need to stop drinking. I know.....I know..... a lot easier said than done. But we are taking about your life here. That alcohol maybe like throwing gasoline on a fire to your liver.

Think of it like poison. You wouldn't knowingly drink poison would you? Alcohol is poison to the liver. skull Especially a damaged liver.

Good luck Chris...........thoughts and prayers............
Pink Grandma
Forum moderator-Hepatitis

When the going gets tough....the tough get going! Don't always know where I going but I get there anyways.


Chris_73
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 7/7/2008 11:56 AM (GMT -7)   
Pink Grandma,

Thank you for your kind words, and I do know that I should quit the booze anyway. Still, the original question remains: Can you have a normal ultrasound, feel perfectly well and still have a late stage chirrosis (or chirrosis at all)?

My doctors don't seem to think so, even though I have had some weird blood test results, a symptom and a sign of chirrosis... and the drinking history of course.

Anyone here who could help me?

hep93
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 12014
   Posted 7/7/2008 1:16 PM (GMT -7)   

Chris, I have hep C and was getting sonograms (ultrasounds) every year to keep an eye out for problems.  The only thing that showed up were a couple of "lesions" from the hep C.  This went on for years.  However, about 2 yrs. ago, my ultrasound showed a HUGE tumor in my liver.  I really think this might've been missed the previous year, because after it was discovered I had many ultrasounds and MRIs, and they never showed much tumor growth.  Of course, I knew I was at risk for liver cancer, due to the hep C, but never really expected it to happen to me.

I was diagnosed with hep C back in '93.  At that time, I had 6 years of sobriety in AA.  I now have nearly 22 years without a drink.  I KNOW I would be dead were I still drinking all those years.  No doubt about it.  The fact that you are worried about your liver from your heavy alcohol use tells me that you know you should quit.

Please get yourself to an AA meeting.  They are held all over the world, and can be found in phone books under Alcoholics Anonymous.  I can't say whether you have cirrhosis now, but I can guarantee you that you will if you continue to drink.  You are playing roulette with your life.  So please take this seriously, as it is a serious issue.  Every drink you take is injuring your liver.

Good luck!

Connie


Chris_73
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 7/7/2008 1:53 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you Connie,

It would be so much easier if I knew whether I have a cirrhosis or not. But I have put myself in this situation, so I have to live with it.

I've been getting these strange dreams and fealings, and I have cried when nobody can see. OK, that's business as usual for alcoholics. The sad thing is that I could never attend an AA meeting in my community without destroying the social status of my family. Even my doctor don't care how much I drink as the blood work is not that messed up, the ultrasound is OK and I do attend the Freemasons meetings and look fine (under the hood, that is ; -)...

This is a kind of cliché, but true to me - the perfect closet drinker with a serious liver scare.

All the best for anyone reading this, I do wish you well!

-chris

Butterflythree
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 954
   Posted 7/7/2008 3:12 PM (GMT -7)   
Chris, People can have cirrhosis and feel perfectly well, but usually in the later stages symptoms start appearing. Have you tried googling high bilirubin. There are some sites that can give you some ideas of what may be the problem. Have the doctors mentioned problems with bile ducts? Alcohol consumption can cause some of the labs to be off.

I am glad that you came back, and I will pray that you are able to win your fight with alcoholism. I am starting to worry that my 22 year old son will be following the path of his father and will be fighting the same battle.

Take Care!
Butterflythree
 
There is always hope!


shadowsghost
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 489
   Posted 7/7/2008 7:58 PM (GMT -7)   

Chris, My husband had alot of minor symptons that were missed. He worked 2 jobs so many things were attributed to lack of sleep and poor diet. A friend of mine also had same issues and both men sober for many years. My friend collapsed at work bleeding internally when then discovered he needed a transplant because of advanced chirrosis 4 months later he got his transplant. My hubby got an infection that wouldnt clear up and ended out on life support for 17 days 3 weeks in the hospital they discharged him with advice to see a doctor. He was diagnosed 3 months later with chirrosis. All the time in the hospital with many tests and ultrasounds etc, they missed it cause labs were only off a "little" ! I say be carefull and stop the drinking. You would be surprised who you will find in an AA meeting so dont worry about your reputation or your families reputation that is just an excuse to not go. Sorry to sound harsh but only you can take care of you. Lets think about it which choice shall you make, the slight possibility of someone knowing you go to AA or the possibilty of everyone watching you die. Read the posts in this site dont breeze through them really read them. This site is full of people struggling with thier own illness or their loved ones. You will find support and information that you can use.

Sue


When I started counting my blessings my whole world turned around.


hep93
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 12014
   Posted 7/7/2008 8:30 PM (GMT -7)   

Chris, I agree with Sue.  Upper echelon types also go to AA meetings, including well-known entertainers and news anchors.  That is why it is "anonymous."  (Thus the slogan, "What you hear here and who you see here, stays here.")  If you see someone there you know--they are there for the same reason as you.  At the very least, you could find a meeting in a neighboring town, or buy a copy of Alcoholics Anonymous ("the Big Book") and "12 Steps and 12 Traditions."  These are available online.  There are, in fact, even online meetings that are run like real meetings.  If you want help with your drinking problem, the help is available.

If you knew for sure that you had cirrhosis, would you stop drinking?  Could you stop?  Why not just do it as insurance before your liver damage goes that far?  It's just good sense.

Connie


exhaused
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 445
   Posted 7/7/2008 8:32 PM (GMT -7)   

Chris

You don't have to go to an AA meeting in your community.  You can go to a meeting in a near by community.  I dare you to try it.  I bet you will find a whole room full of people that have the same problems as you!  Screw community status this is your life.  If you could talk to my husband for 10 minutes he would tell you he would give anything to go back and quit drinking sooner.  He has been so sick for so long he is tired of fighting.  Just take it one day at a time and find someone to talk to you trust. PLease Please try.  I promise you will be so glad you did.  I will pray for you.

JoAnn

 


Pink Grandma
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 2445
   Posted 7/7/2008 9:50 PM (GMT -7)   
Chris one more post on the subject.

My husband did not want to go to AA but it was a requirement for being listed for a transplant. He had already quit 2 years before on his own and felt that he didn't need it. But he went because he had to. He had fought going to AA for years with me before he got sick. Guess what? After about the third meeting he actually start liking it. In fact he would go 2-4 days a week when only once a week would have satisfied the transplant committee. After they took him off the list he continued to go. By then, he loved it. It was his extended family, just like everyone on this forum is our extended family.

Chris we are only telling you because we care. So please don't get upset with us. There in nothing more important than your life. If you're dead what good are you to anyone?
To heck with anyone who would look down on you for being smart enough to get help with an addiction. nono There's one thing that I have learned in my 50+ years of living...........I don't live my life as others think I should live...family or friend. I live my life as I see fit. And if someone else doesn't like how I am living.... too bad. Because I really don't care what they think. I have to live with myself first and foremost. If I can't take care of me, how am I going to take care of anyone else? Sometimes I feel like a salmon swimming upstream....I just don't go with the flow. But I have always marched to a different drummer. devil

Sorry, I got up on my soapbox again. (Stepping down now.)

Take care.........thoughts and prayers........
Pink Grandma
Forum moderator-Hepatitis

When the going gets tough....the tough get going! Don't always know where I going but I get there anyways.


Butterflythree
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 954
   Posted 7/8/2008 5:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Chris, I have been thinking alot about you and hope you are doing ok. I know so many people that have fought this battle all of their lives. My father-in-law passed away from liver cancer, brother-in-law from cirrhosis, uncle from cirrhosis (who I've already mentioned), a brother-in-law that is in very advanced stages of cirrhosis and as you know my husband has cirrhosis. I wish that I would have been able to save every one of them. It is a very sad disease for a person's family to watch them go through. You really start losing the person before they are gone. Believe me! It is not something you want your family or yourself to go through.

I will pray for God to give you strength.

Take Care!
Butterflythree
 
There is always hope!


frustrated_n_wv
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 469
   Posted 7/9/2008 4:21 AM (GMT -7)   
Chris

In my experience you can feel "normal" and enymes levels can be fairly normal and still have cirrhosis. Prior to January of this year I had fairly normal enyme levels that had stabilzed for nearly 9 nomths. My fatigue had lessened and I found myself being more active and feeling more like myself than I had in several years. When going through some followup testing (endoscopy, colonoscopy, and liver biopsy) they found that I had progressed into cirrhosis. I don't know if this damage was done prior to me becoming stable on my medications, however my first biospy was two and a half years prior to that and at that time they had only seen minimal fibrosis.

Liver disease is so different for everyone. I certainly hope that you get the testing and results that you need to put your mind at ease.

Lucy

Chris_73
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 7/9/2008 8:20 AM (GMT -7)   
I'd like to thank everyone for kind comments!

frustrated_n_wv: Sorry to hear about your diagnosis and all the best for you!
Butterflythree: according to the ultrasound radiologist, there is "no intrahepatic or extrahepatic biliary dilation present", so the elevated bilirubin probably isn't bile duct related.

As the doctors won't agree to have the biopsy done as yet, I've planned to have me an elastography (fibroscan): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elastography. Has anyone had this scan done or heard about it? There's surprisingly little academic information in the internet about this, but some of the top hospitals in London are now using it. They say that it's almost as accurate as biopsy in determining the amount of fibrosis, sounds awesome but can this be true? If it is, why isn't the method in wider use? It's not expensive either, it costs only a bit more than a normal ultrasound. Weird...

Butterflythree
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 954
   Posted 7/9/2008 5:05 PM (GMT -7)   
Chris, I think I saw something on a news report about Fibroscan. I can't remember what it was. I guess I am not much help to you. I tried to do a little research but I couldn't find much. I probably found the same articles as you. One did say the more advanced the cirrhosis was the more accurate the test would be.

Keep us updated and take care.
Butterflythree
 
There is always hope!


Caregiverx3<3
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 197
   Posted 7/10/2008 11:57 PM (GMT -7)   
Chris_73,

I don't mean any disrespect, but how in the world did you find a spider naevi in your nose?

Carol
 


Chris_73
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 7/11/2008 2:05 AM (GMT -7)   
Carol,

In the mirror. The doctor just took a quick glance and said, that "...ah, that's nothing, there should be at least five and most likely in the cheast area".

nephy5
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 3/6/2014 4:31 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi All, l just joined.I found out in Dec that I have stage 4 cirrhosis. I have been going to specialist for 2 yr for slightly elevated LFTs. I kept telling theDr. I was so tired and itchy.SHe finally sent me for a spect 3 blood test. Iget a call saying I need a biospy.Anyway my Dr said she was shocked. I never drank. I just had an ultrasound. Normal... WEII I HAVE STAGE 4.NOT NORMAL.So now MRIs and ultrasounds, blood tests.So u need to press for a biospy. So sorry for your worries.But u need to keep a positive outlook

A.Ziffle
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 2061
   Posted 3/6/2014 7:33 PM (GMT -7)   
Nephy5, Glad to see you joined and look forward to your post in the future. You are responding to a thread back in 2008 though. If you could start a new post it would get noticed alot quicker and would be specific to you. Sorry you had to find us this way, We help each other by sharing our experiences and I think you'll fit in nicely here.


Ziff
" Never try to teach a pig to sing , It wastes your time and annoys the pig . "
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