When to Seek Medical Care for Cirrhosis
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms that don't go away in a day or 2, or if you have any of these symptoms:
- Sudden weight gain with increased size of your abdomen
- Increasing water retention
- Changes in your mental faculties or behavior
- New or different responses to medications
- Bleeding that takes longer than usual to stop
If you are unable to reach your health care provider or have any of these, go to the emergency department.
- Blood in your vomit or stool
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Confusion or bizarre behavior
- Repeated vomiting
Exams and Tests for Cirrhosis
Your medical history, current symptoms, or physical exam findings may suggest to your health care provider that you have cirrhosis.
- He or she may suspect cirrhosis if you have abused alcohol or IV drugs in the past or still do so.
- Known chronic hepatitis, unexplained bleeding, jaundice, ascites (fluid building up in your abdomen), or any changes in the way you act are other findings that suggest cirrhosis.
- The condition may not be diagnosed until complications develop.
The steps in making the diagnosis of cirrhosis may include the following:
- Blood tests - To check whether the liver is functioning normally. Lab findings can be normal in cirrhosis, however.
- Ultrasound, CT scan to look for signs of cirrhosis within or on the surface of the liver
- Liver biopsy - Removing tissue from the liver and studying it under a microscope to identify fibrosis and scarring. Biopsy is the only way diagnosis can be 100% certain.
- Laparoscope - A very tiny camera inserted through a small slit in the abdomen to view the liver directly. This may be done for another reason and your doctor finds you have cirrhosis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/4/2016
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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