What Does a Cat Scan for the Liver Show?


CAT scans (sometimes also called CT scans or computerized tomography) are non-invasive diagnostic tests, which create detailed images of your inner organs, tissues, blood vessels and bones. Having a CAT scan of the liver can reveal liver cancer, cirrhosis, fatty liver, Gilbert's disease or provide guidance for a biopsy.


  • CT scans may detect existing liver tumors and help your doctor to determine how many tumors you have, as well as the tumor's location.


  • Cirrhosis is characterized by scarring of your liver tissue and enlargement of your liver, which can be seen with a CAT scan. Cirrhosis is caused by alcohol abuse, hepatitis and certain autoimmune conditions.

Fatty Liver

  • Fatty liver is characterized by excessive fat cells gathering in your liver; it is often caused by diabetes, heavy alcohol use and extreme weight gain. CT scans will display diminished liver density, indicating the condition.

Gilbert's Disease

  • CAT scans can differentiate between a blocked duct (a cause of jaundice) and Gilbert's disease (non-obstructive jaundice). This inherited disorder is characterized by your liver's inability to effectively process bilirubin, which causes jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

For Use in Biopsies

  • Because of the detailed imaging that CT scans provide, using the test to help guide liver biopsies is extremely effective.

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