• Diagnosis of Cirrhosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Tests to confirm the diagnosis may include the following:
    Blood Tests —there is no blood test to diagnose cirrhosis. Blood tests can only detect signs of liver function problems, such as:
    • Elevated liver enzymes aspartate aminotransaminase (AST), alanine aminotranferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase, g-glutamyltransferase (GGT) (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
    • Anemia
    • Ammonia levels
    Special tests are ordered to confirm various causative factors including tests for:
    • Viral hepatitis B and C serologies
    • Autoimmune hepatitis with antinuclear antibodies or anti-smooth muscle antibody
    • Hemochromatosis with transferrin saturation, iron-binding capacity, ferritin
    • Wilson disease with serum copper and ceruloplasmin
    • Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency with serum alpha 1 antitrypsin plus genetic screening
    • Primary biliary cirrhosis with antimitochondrial antibody
    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 echoes of ultrasound waves to examine internal organs.
    • Liver Scan
    • Abdominal x-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
    • MRI —test that provides detailed images of internal organs
    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: http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/cirrhosis. Updated December 3, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2013.

    Cirrhosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 27, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2013

    Cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis/index.aspx. Updated February 21, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2013.

    Heidelbaugh JJ, Bruderly M. Cirrhosis and Chronic Liver Failure: Part I. Diagnosis and Evaluation. Am Fam Phys. 2006;74:756-81

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.