Cirrhosis

At the Henry Ford Liver Disease Center, our specialists are skilled at managing the subtle, and not so subtle, nuances of caring for a liver that’s been damaged. We offer the best technology and techniques available for every aspect of your cirrhosis treatment, along with the knowledge and experience needed to help you live the fullest life possible.

What is cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is a life-threatening condition where the liver progressively scars and hardens. This process gradually prevents the liver from filtering blood and performing other essential tasks. If left unchecked, cirrhosis can lead to internal bleeding, kidney failure, liver failure, liver cancer, coma and death.

Causes of cirrhosis and liver failure

A common cause of cirrhosis is alcohol abuse. Your liver can cope with small to moderate amounts of alcohol, but not the day-after-day, year-after-year habits of a heavy drinker. In addition, individuals can vary in how much alcohol it takes to destroy their liver. It’s not known why some people are more susceptible to cirrhosis from alcohol than others.

Cirrhosis is also more common in people who are overweight. It can also result from other liver diseases including:

Cirrhosis symptoms

Cirrhosis often starts “silently,” causing few, if any, noticeable symptoms. But as it gets worse, symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Anorexia and weight loss
  • Liver swelling, causing abdominal tenderness and pain
  • Itching
  • Vomiting blood
  • Ascites (abdomen swelling due to the buildup of fluid)
  • Spider-like blood vessels under the skin

How is cirrhosis of the liver diagnosed?

At the Henry Ford Liver Disease Center, our board-certified hepatologists (liver specialists) are rigorously trained in managing all aspects of cirrhosis. They are experts at recognizing the presence of cirrhosis and diagnosing the extent (staging) of it, along with empowering you to make the lifestyle changes necessary to help you keep your condition in control. Our diagnostic tools include:

  • Blood tests
  • Advanced liver imaging tests: These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans
  • FibroScan: We were the first hospital in Michigan to use FibroScan, one of the best noninvasive alternatives to liver biopsy. Our FibroScan clinical trials helped our specialists master the nuances of this dynamic diagnostic tool, making us one of the most experienced in the country in its use. In the majority of cases, FibroScan will eliminate the need for a liver biopsy.

Learn more about liver disease diagnosis at Henry Ford.

Cirrhosis and liver failure treatments at Henry Ford Hospital

If you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis, it’s possible to live a normal life. Our multidisciplinary team of specialists brings considerable expertise to the art of managing what can often be a complex condition.

In our Liver Disease Center, we offer all the care you will need throughout your entire disease course in one convenient location, no matter the stage of your cirrhosis and its related health complications. Our treatments include:

  • Lifestyle counseling: Our dedicated liver dietitians help you implement lifestyle changes, like eating a healthy diet, which can make a huge difference for your symptoms and your body’s ability to reverse the disease on its own.
  • Medications: When cirrhosis is caused by viral hepatitis, we offer a number of options, including the drug interferon, which can boost your body’s ability to fight the hepatitis virus.
  • Advanced, minimally invasive procedures: Our skilled interventional radiologists perform a large number of minimally invasive procedures to treat and control any associated health complications caused by cirrhosis. Learn more about endoscopy at Henry Ford.
  • Liver transplant: As one of the largest liver transplant programs in the Midwest, we provide seamless transitions to liver transplant for our patients with advanced cirrhosis.
  • Robust research unit: We consistently offer promising new therapies before they’re available to the public. Learn more about the exciting research and clinical trials going on at Henry Ford.

Learn more about our treatments at Henry Ford Hospital.

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