Testing and Diagnosis

Liver doctor and patientAt the Texas Liver Tumor Center, our goal is to diagnose and treat our patients as quickly as possible. To accomplish this, we’ve established a streamlined and accelerated patient evaluation process. 

In one day, our patients can meet with a wide range of specialists, receive all necessary diagnostic testing, and leave our state-of-the-art outpatient center with the knowledge and peace of mind that an individualized treatment plan is in place.

We offer:

  • MRI and CT imaging
  • Magnetic resonance elastography
  • Liver function testing

Genetic testing

Genetic testing looks for specific inherited changes or mutations in an individual’s chromosomes, genes or proteins. Harmful mutations can increase an individual’s change of developing cancer and play a role in about 5-10% of all cancers. Individuals who get certain cancers at a younger age and the specific types of cancers may suggest a genetic link.

If deemed appropriate, our medical team may recommend that a blood sample be taken for genetic testing as part of the medical evaluation. Our experts will then evaluate and interpret your genetic testing results to determine if your cancer has a hereditary component.

Trained genetic counselors will meet with individuals before and after genetic testing to explain what a specific gene test means for their healthcare and to answer any questions. Counselors can also discuss whether screening of family members should be considered.

Liver biopsy

A biopsy under ultrasound (US) or computed tomography (CT) guidance can be helpful in patients with one or more focal liver lesions in whom the diagnosis is uncertain and when the results would influence management. A biopsy is needed in few cases as most liver tumors or lesions can be identified with proper imaging. In the case of metastatic disease to the liver, the original source is often known.

A liver biopsy is typically an outpatient procedure. The procedure itself takes a few minutes but patients must be monitored for a period after the procedure.

Liver biopsy is safe when performed by experienced medical professionals. The overall rate of serious complications is low. Complications after percutaneous liver biopsy can be classified as minor or major. Minor complications include transient localized discomfort at the biopsy site, pain sufficient to require analgesia, and mild drop in blood pressure due to a vasovagal reaction.

Major complications are rare and include significant bleeding that requires in the hospital monitoring. Approximately one-fourth of patients experience pain in the right upper quadrant or right shoulder after liver biopsy. The pain is usually dull, worse when breathing in, mild in nature, and of short duration. Patients who develop pain can take acetaminophen. In general, patients can return to work the following day.