Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

People with early-stage cirrhosis of the liver usually don't have symptoms. Often, cirrhosis is first detected through a routine blood test or checkup. Your doctor may order one or more tests or procedures to diagnose cirrhosis.

Laboratory tests:

  • Liver function. Your blood is checked for excess bilirubin and certain enzymes that may indicate liver damage.
  • Kidney function. Your blood is checked for creatinine.
  • Tests for hepatitis B and C. Your blood is checked for the hepatitis viruses.
  • Clotting. Your international normalized ratio (INR) is checked for your blood's ability to clot.

Imaging and other tests:

  • Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE). This noninvasive advanced imaging testdetects hardening or stiffening of the liver.
  • Other imaging tests. MRI, CT and ultrasound can image the liver.
  • Biopsy. A tissue sample (biopsy) is not necessarily needed for diagnosis. However, your doctor may use it to identify the severity, extent and cause of liver damage.

If you have cirrhosis, your doctor is likely to recommend regular diagnostic tests to monitor for signs of disease progression or complications, especially esophageal varices and liver cancer. Noninvasive tests are becoming more widely available for monitoring.

Aug. 16, 2014