Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis is a condition in which your liver is scarred and permanently damaged. Scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents your liver from working normally. Cirrhosis is a long-term (chronic) liver disease, as cirrhosis gets worse, your liver begins to fail.

Why Choose Cooper to Diagnose and Treat Cirrhosis of the Liver

With their advanced training and experience, Cooper’s board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists are skilled at diagnosing cirrhosis of the liver.

Our team of experts diagnose cirrhosis of the liver based on many factors, including a thorough review of your medical history, a physical exam, and the results of a series of tests.

Testing for cirrhosis of the liver includes:

  • Blood tests. These will include liver function tests to see if the liver is working the way it should. You may also have tests to see if your blood is able to clot.
  • Liver biopsy. Small tissue samples are taken from the liver with a needle or during surgery. The samples are checked under a microscope to find out the type of liver disease.
  • CT scan (computed tomography). This is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. A CT scan shows details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This test makes detailed pictures of organs and structures inside your body. It uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy. A dye may be shot (injected) into your vein. The dye helps the liver and other organs to be seen more clearly on the scan.
  • Ultrasound. This shows your internal organs as they work. It checks how blood is flowing through different blood vessels. It uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs.

Cirrhosis of the Liver Causes and Risk Factors

The liver is your body’s largest internal organ, and does many important things. A normal functioning liver removes waste from the body, makes bile to help digest food, stores sugar that the body uses for energy, and makes new proteins.

Cirrhosis is a progressive liver disease that happens over time. The disease slows the flow of blood through the liver, and as a result the liver can’t work the way that it should. In severe cases, the liver gets so badly damaged that it stops working, causing liver failure.

Cirrhosis of the liver can be caused by many factors. The most common causes include alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic hepatitis C, and chronic hepatitis B.

Cirrhosis of the Liver Symptoms

Cirrhosis has many signs and symptoms, such as fatigue and severe itchy skin, and may not appear until the liver is badly damaged.

It is important to schedule regular physician appointments when treating your health. This is especially vital in cirrhosis as the effects are often non-reversible, and symptoms may look like other health problems.

Typical cirrhosis of the liver symptoms include:

  • Fluid buildup in the belly (ascites)
  • Vomiting blood, often from bleeding in the blood vessels in the food pipe (esophagus)
  • Gallstones
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Kidney failure
  • Muscle loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Easy bruising
  • Spider-like veins in the skin
  • Low energy and weakness (fatigue)
  • Weight loss
  • Confusion as toxins build up in the blood

Treating Cirrhosis of the Liver

While there is no specific treatments that cure cirrhosis, the experts here at Cooper University Health Care will treat the diseases that cause cirrhosis. Treating the underlying causes of cirrhosis can keep your cirrhosis from getting worse and may help prevent liver failure.

The goal of treatment is to slow down the buildup of scar tissue and prevent or treat other health problems. In some cases damage to your liver can reverse or improve if the root cause is eliminated, such as discontinued alcohol use. Your treatment may include:

  • Eating a healthy diet, low in sodium
  • Refraining from alcohol and/or illegal drugs
  • Managing health problems caused by cirrhosis 
  • In severe cases a liver transplant

If you have cirrhosis, you should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. You should avoid food and drinks that can damage your liver, such as shellfish and alcohol. At Cooper we have expert doctors and dietitians that can assist patients with establishing healthy eating habits.

Make an Appointment With a Cooper Expert in Treating Cirrhosis of the Liver

To learn more about the resources available for treating cirrhosis of the liver at Cooper or to request an appointment, please call 800.8.COOPER (800.826.6737)