Understanding Cirrhosis of the Liver: First steps for the newly diagnosed

 

What tests do I need to have?

Several different tests monitor your liver and help you and your healthcare provider understand how cirrhosis is affecting it. You may have some of the following types of tests:

  • Blood tests assess injury or inflammation in the liver and how well your liver is working. These tests have names like AST, ALT, GGT, INR, albumin and bilirubin.
  • Imaging tests determine whether the liver is an abnormal shape or size and also measure how well blood is flowing through it. Ultrasounds look at the shape and size of your liver, as well as checking for fluid in the liver and monitoring for cancer. If anything out of the ordinary is found, other tests like MRIs and CT scans can be used for further testing.

You may also have tests to monitor the scarring (fibrosis) on your liver. There are two common tests:

  • FibroScan measures liver stiffness using sound waves—a scarred liver is stiffer than a healthy one. This is a quick, painless procedure.
  • Liver biopsy involves inserting a needle into the body to take a small piece of the liver. The piece is then studied under a microscope to look for damage.

Talk to your healthcare provider about the tests you’ll need, how often you’ll need them, what to expect during each test and how to prepare for each one.

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