Diagnosis of Cirrhosis
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Many signs and symptoms of cirrhosis, such as a firm, enlarged or shrunken liver or spleen, a distended abdomen, and jaundice are evident in a physical exam.
Other tests to confirm the diagnosis may include.
Blood Tests —Blood tests can detect signs of liver function problems, such as:
- Elevated liver enzymes (an indicator of liver damage)
- Elevated bilirubin (the pigment that produces jaundice and is usually cleared from the body by the liver)
- Low serum albumin (a protein made by the liver)
- Blood clotting abnormalities
Imaging Tests —These tests help the physician visualize the liver in various ways to determine whether the size and shape are normal or if the liver shows any signs of cirrhosis. Imaging tests may include:
- ]]>CT Scan]]> —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the liver
- ]]> Ultrasound ]]> —a test that uses sound waves to examine the liver
- Liver/Spleen Scan
- Abdominal X-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
]]>Laparoscopy]]> —A tube with a tiny video camera mounted on it is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. It relays pictures back to a computer screen. This also allows the doctor to see the liver and determine whether the size and shape appear normal.
Liver Biopsy —This is the only definite way to diagnose cirrhosis. A needle is used to obtain a small sample of tissue from the liver. The tissue sample is then examined under a microscope to determine whether it shows scarring or other signs of disease.
American Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org/ . Accessed March 8, 2006.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/ . Accessed March 7, 2006.
National Library of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/ . Accessed March 8, 2006.
Last reviewed July 2008 by ]]>Daus Mahnke, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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