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How to Feel for an Enlarged Liver

Updated May 10, 2017

Alcoholism, liver cancer, hepatitis (liver infection), heart failure and blood disorders are diseases that can cause your liver to be enlarged, according to the Mayo Clinic. A large liver, also known as hepatomegaly, is tender and painful and must be checked immediately. Your doctor can be palpate (feel) your liver during a physical exam when it moves below your rib cage.

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  1. Position the patient face up on a comfortable surface. Make sure the legs are supported.

  2. Stand on the right side of the patient and place your hands on the right upper part of the patient's stomach and feel for the rib cage.

  3. Slide your fingers to the lowest part of the rib cage.

  4. Slide your left hand underneath the patient's back for support.

  5. With your right hand, hook your fingers underneath the last rib cage and apply firm pressure upwards. Do not let go.

  6. Ask the patient to take a deep breathe and you should feel the liver's edge if it is enlarged.

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Things You'll Need

  • Hands

About the Author

Lisabetta Divita is a physician whose love for writing flourished while she was exposed to all facets of the medical field during her training. Her writings are currently featured in prominent medical magazines and various online publications. She holds a doctorate in medicine, a master's in biomedicine, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Boston College.

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