Exams and Tests
Your doctor will diagnose hepatitis B based on a physical exam and blood tests. He or she also will ask about your medical history (including possible risks for the virus, such as your job and sexual activity).
Blood tests to diagnose hepatitis B
Blood tests are done to help diagnose hepatitis B. They include:
- Hepatitis B Reference antigens Opens New Window and Reference antibodies Opens New Window. These help tell if you are or were infected with the virus. They also can show if you have been immunized and if you have long-term (chronic) infection. You also may get tested for the virus's genetic material (Reference HBV DNA). For more information, see Reference Hepatitis B Virus Tests.
- Tests to see if the Reference hepatitis A Opens New Window, Reference hepatitis C Opens New Window, or Reference Epstein-Barr Opens New Window viruses are causing your hepatitis.
- Tests to see if you are infected with Reference hepatitis D along with hepatitis B.
Blood tests to check for liver damage
Blood tests may be done to help find out if your liver has been damaged. They include:
- Reference Bilirubin, Reference albumin, and Reference prothrombin time. These help show how well your liver is working. Reference Cholesterol testing also may be done.
- Reference Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), Reference aspartate aminotransferase (AST), Reference alkaline phosphatase, and Reference lactic dehydrogenase (LDH). These show whether your liver is damaged or inflamed.
Tests if you are having treatment or are thinking about it
Tests may be done if you have chronic hepatitis and are considering antiviral treatment. These tests also may be used to find out whether treatment has helped control liver damage. The tests include:
- Imaging tests.
- Removing a tissue sample from the liver (Reference liver biopsy).
Test for liver cancer
An Reference alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test may be done. If the AFP level is high, it may point to liver cancer.
If you have chronic infection, you will need to visit your doctor regularly. He or she will do blood tests to check your liver function and the activity of the virus in your body.
Some of the tests can tell your doctor if the virus is multiplying in your liver. This raises your risk for chronic hepatitis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women have the hepatitis B surface antigen test. The test can show if a woman has a current hepatitis B infection. This test also may be repeated later in the pregnancy if a woman is at high risk for infection.
You can be tested for hepatitis B before getting vaccinated.
- Antibody testing will show if you have an active hepatitis B infection and need treatment.
- If testing shows that you are already protected against hepatitis B, you won't need to get the hepatitis B vaccine (What is a Reference PDF Opens New Window document?).
- It's not harmful to get the vaccine even if you already have antibodies against the virus in your blood.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 29, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology