Diagnosis of Cirrhosis
by Alayne Ronnenberg, ScD
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests to confirm cirrhosis may include the following:
Blood tests —There is no specific blood test to diagnose cirrhosis. Blood tests can only detect signs of liver function problems, such as:
Special tests are ordered to confirm various causative factors including tests for:
Imaging tests —These tests help your doctor visualize the liver in various ways to determine whether the size and shape are normal or if the liver shows any signs of cirrhosis. Some tests may use contrast material so the images will be easier to see. Imaging tests may include:
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.
Cirrhosis. American Liver Foundation website. Available at:
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Updated December 6, 2016. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/cirrhosis. Updated April 2014. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Cirrhosis of the liver. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated January 12, 2017. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Starr SP, Raines D. Cirrhosis: diagnosis, management, and prevention. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(12):1353-1359.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015
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