Jaundice

ie raised blood bilirubin.

First decide if conjugated or unconjugated.  Conjugated suggests a biliary problem, ie obstruction to bile flow, usually associated with raised gamma glucuronyl transferase (gamma GT).  Unconjugated (as measured in split bilirubin) implies haemolysis or else hepatocellular damage (transaminases also go up ie AST, ALT).  Unconjugated can also go up in conjugated disease, presumably competition for conjugation sites, or else because of secondary or mixed hepatocellular damage.

History – maternal if baby, immunisations, transfusions, outdoor activities, pets, holidays, drugs, tattoos. Family history (haemolytic conditions, in particular).

Look for signs of liver failure, lymphadenopathy, eyes (Wilsons – best with slit lamp), dysmorphic (Alagille’s).

Consider:

So do:

  • USS abdo – exclude obstruction.  Common bile duct stones can be obscured on USS by bowel gas.
  • FBC, U&Es, LFTs
  • Prothrombin time, glucose, ammonia, lactate – to monitor for failure
  • Coombs test – haemolytic anaemia seen in Wilsons
  • ANA, anti SMA/LKM ab’s
  • Copper, caeruloplasmin (but not great for Wilsons if acute)
  • Serology
  • Alpha 1 AT if chronic
  • Slit lamps examination – (Wilson’s, also Alagille’s (posterior embryotoxin)
  • CXR to look for butterfly vertebrae (Alagille’s)

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