If you have cirrhosis, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the digestive system (gastroenterologist) or the liver (hepatologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions, such as diet restrictions on the day before your appointment.
- Write down your symptoms, including when they started and how they may have changed or worsened over time.
- Take a list of all your medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements.
- Write down your key medical information, including other diagnosed conditions.
- Bring results of medical tests done so far, including digital copies of CT, MRI or ultrasound images and biopsy slides if a liver biopsy has been done.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life.
- Take a family member or friend along to help you remember things.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor
Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is most likely causing my cirrhosis?
- Is there a way to slow or stop my liver damage?
- What are my treatment options?
- How can I protect my liver from further damage?
- Are there medications that can hurt my liver?
- What signs and symptoms of complications should I watch for?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
Don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Be prepared to answer questions your doctor is likely to ask, including:
Jan. 30, 2013
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- How often do you drink alcohol?
- Have you been exposed to or taken toxic drugs?
- Do you have a family history of liver disease, hemochromatosis or obesity?
- Sanchez W, et al. Liver cirrhosis. The American College of Gastroenterology. http://patients.gi.org/topics/liver-cirrhosis/. Accessed Dec. 3, 2012.
- 2. Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013:5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..00002-9&isbn=978-0-323-08373-7&about=true&uniqId=343863096-23.Accessed Nov. 27, 2012.
- Cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.3.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis/index.htm. Accessed Nov. 27, 2012.
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed Dec. 3, 2012.
- AskMayoExpert. What are the clinical manifestations of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Starr PS, et al. Cirrhosis: Diagnosis, management and prevention. American Family Physician. 2011;84:1353.
- AskMayoExpert. What are the complications and comorbid conditions associated with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Jafri SM, et al. Care of the cirrhotic patient. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America. 2012;26:979.
- AskMayoExpert. When should patients with cirrhosis be screened for esophageal varices? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2010.
- AskMayoExpert. What is the standard follow-up for patients receiving therapy for primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- AskMayoExpert. What is the initial therapy recommended for patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- AskMayoExpert. Will asymptomatic patients who receive a diagnosis of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) have symptoms at a later time? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- AskMayoExpert. What is the expected prognosis of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) following treatment? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Your liver. Your life. American Liver Foundation. http://www.yourliver.org/Liver-Wellness-Presentation.pdf. Accessed Dec. 3, 2012.
- Liver transplant. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/livertransplant. Accessed Dec. 28, 2012.
- Verma S et al. Complementary and alternative medicine in hepatology: review of the evidence of efficacy. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2007; 5: 408.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-2/0/1494/0.html. Accessed Jan. 3, 2013.