Skip to Content

Cirrhosis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Cirrhosis is long-term scarring of the liver. The liver helps digest food, clean your blood, and fight infection.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • Blood pressure medicine: This is used to treat high blood pressure in the porta vein (the vein that goes to your liver).
  • Diuretics: This medicine is given to decrease edema (excess fluid) that collects in a part of your body, such as your legs and abdomen. Diuretics can also decrease your blood pressure. It is often called water pills. You will urinate more often when you take this medicine.
  • Anti-itching medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to help keep your skin from itching. This medicine may be given in an IV, as a shot, by mouth, or as a skin lotion. Sometimes this medicine can make you sleepy.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

Monitoring:

  • Abdominal measuring: Caregivers use a measuring tape to measure around your abdomen. Your abdomen may be measured as often as every four to eight hours to see if it is getting smaller or larger.
  • Intake and output: Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.
  • Neurologic exam: This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

Tests:

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Liver biopsy: A small piece of your liver is removed and sent to a lab to test for liver damage.
  • Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to show pictures of your abdomen. An ultrasound is done to check for damage to your liver or other tissues or organs.
  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray uses a computer to take pictures of your liver. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell healthcare providers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye.
  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your liver. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell healthcare providers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything made of metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell healthcare providers if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Esophagoscopy: This test looks at the inside of your throat and esophagus. A scope with a magnifying glass and a light on the end is gently put into your mouth and throat. Your healthcare provider will look for swollen blood vessels in your esophagus and stomach. The vessels can burst and bleed if not treated.

Treatments:

  • Shunt: A channel is created inside your liver to increase blood flow. The shunt decreases swelling in your abdomen and blood pressure in the porta vein. The shunt also decreases the risk of bleeding in your esophagus and stomach.
  • Liver transplant: You may need a liver transplant if your liver fails.

RISKS:

Surgery may lead to bleeding problems or an infection in your abdomen. A liver transplant may result in organ rejection and cause further problems. Without treatment, the scar tissue will continue to replace healthy tissue. This can cause severe liver damage, and your liver can fail. You could go into a coma, or bleed more than expected. This can be life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Hide