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The goals of testing are to determine the cause of jaundice and to evaluate the severity of the underlying condition. Initial testing, usually a physical exam conducted by a healthcare practitioner, is generally focused on the liver. Specific additional tests, such as viral hepatitis testing and/or testing to evaluate increased red blood cell destruction, may be ordered along with or following the initial tests based on the clinical findings and the healthcare practitioner's suspicions of the cause of the jaundice.

Laboratory tests

Some tests are used to detect liver damage and evaluate liver function and may include:

Some tests may be used to detect infections that affect the liver, such as:

Tests used to detect decreased red blood cell survival may include:

Non-laboratory tests

Imaging tests and liver biopsies may be used to help evaluate the status and structure of the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. Testing may include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT (computed tomography) scan
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, often including MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatogram, to visualize the pancreas and bile ducts)
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP, a direct imaging of the pancreas and bile ducts)
  • Liver biopsy

Visit for more details about imaging tests.

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