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Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease


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What will your health care provider do about cirrhosis?

for Veterans and the Public

What will your health care provider do about cirrhosis? - Cirrhosis for Patients

People with cirrhosis need to see a health care provider regularly. If you have compensated cirrhosis, these visits may be scheduled as often as every 3 to 6 months. These visits allow your provider to watch for complications. Your provider may order the screening tests that can catch these complications early. Then they can be treated or even delayed.

If you have decompensated cirrhosis, you may need to see your provider more often so that the complications that have developed already can be managed well.

People with cirrhosis have to have an upper endoscopy (pronounced "en-dahs-cup-ee") procedure. This is a test in which a thin tube with a camera is passed down your esophagus (food tube) so that your provider can look for varices. If you have no varices, the endoscopy will be repeated every few years. If you have large varices, you will get treatment to reduce the chance of bleeding.

Graphic of jaundice

You also will have a blood test and an ultrasound (or sometimes a CAT scan or an MRI) to look for signs of liver cancer and ascites. It is important for your health care provider to look for cancer on a regular basis, usually every 6 months. If the cancer is caught early, there are often ways to treat it.

If you have developed decompensated cirrhosis, your provider may discuss liver transplant with you. Your provider will help you find out if your body can tolerate this operation, and, if it can, help you and your loved ones get ready for the transplant surgery.