Digestive Health Expertise for Cirrhosis
Digestive health experts at University Hospitals offer a comprehensive approach to the diagnosis, management and treatment of cirrhosis. A long-term or chronic disease, cirrhosis occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, stopping the liver from working normally. If you have signs of liver damage or are experiencing signs of liver failure such as skin or eyes that appear yellowish, our team provides expert care, including liver pain treatment and cirrhosis management.
Our board-certified and fellowship trained liver specialists, also known as hepatologists,provide state-of-the-art clinical care to improve each patient’s quality of life. Hepatologists work closely with liver surgeons, radiologists and specialized nurse practitioners to provide multidisciplinary programs tailored to each patients’ situation.
Understanding the Causes of Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is usually caused by chronic hepatitis due to viruses or autoimmune diseases, alcohol abuse or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Many times, cirrhosis occurs with the presence of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of health conditions that increase the risk of diabetes, stroke or heart disease.
Obesity can also increase your risk of cirrhosis. If untreated, severe cases of cirrhosis can lead to significant liver damage and liver failure occurs when the liver stops functioning correctly.
A Full Spectrum of Digestive Health Diagnostics
Our team at University Hospitals uses the full spectrum of diagnostics and monitoring capabilities for patients with symptoms of cirrhosis. To monitor liver health, patients may undergo the following tests to determine issues, including elevated liver enzymes which can be an indication of inflamed or injured liver cells:
- Blood tests, including liver function tests and clotting tests
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Liver biopsy to find out the type of liver disease
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Transient elastography: Using ultrasound and low-frequency elastic waves for assessment of hepatic fibrosis.
Cirrhosis Treatment Options to Reduce Liver Damage
The goal of treatment for cirrhosis is to slow down the buildup of scar tissue and prevent any new scarring from occurring. In many cases, you may be able to delay or stop additional liver pain or damage.
Other conditions can also affect liver function. If you have hepatitis, our highly skilled physicians will develop a treatment plan that provides a comprehensive approach to improve liver health.
We also provide other treatments that may be necessary such as controlling excessive iron or copper levels or the use of immune-suppressing medicines. In severe cases of cirrhosis where treatment is no longer effective, a liver transplant may be needed and the expert team at University Hospitals Transplant Institute can help.
Lifestyle Changes Can Improve Liver Function
Working in partnership with the clinical treatment for cirrhosis, even small lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on liver function. Our team helps you understand helpful changes that are within your control, including:
- Eating a healthy diet, low in sodium
- Eliminating alcohol or illegal drugs
- Managing related health problems
- Taking all medications, as directed
It’s important for our digestive health experts to know about any other medications you are taking, including prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines or vitamins, as these may affect the liver.