Diseases which diffusely affect the liver may have very non-specific ultrasound appearances. Suspicion is usually raised following altered LFTs and the diagnosis made histologically.
A number of diffuse liver conditions can cause hepatocellular (or non-obstructive) jaundice which is associated with increased levels of unconjugated
bile in the blood. Many of these can be demonstrated with ultrasound, others cannot. The main role of ultrasound in the jaundiced patient is to
exclude any obstructive cause (by the presence or absence of biliary duct dilatation) and to search for liver metastases or signs of a diffuse liver condition.
Causes of non-obstructive (‘medical’) jaundice: