Liver & Biliary Diseases


Liver & Biliary Diseases

Advanced care for liver scarring and its complications

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Get Help Now to Stop Cirrhosis from Progressing

Cirrhosis of the liver is a life-threatening disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced by extensive scar tissue that reduces blood flow to the liver and impairs liver function. Since the liver is the body’s largest internal organ and performs numerous vital functions — such as filtering toxins from the blood and storing vitamins and minerals, among other tasks — any disease that keeps your liver from doing its job properly can have damaging effects on the rest of your body. The liver specialists at the NewYork-Presbyterian are among the best in the nation and have extensive expertise caring for people with cirrhosis. The earlier cirrhosis is diagnosed, the sooner its progression can be stopped. We also perform liver transplantation in patients whose cirrhosis cannot be adequately treated with other methods.

Causes of cirrhosis

The most common causes of cirrhosis are:

  • Non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis D
  • Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC)
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC)
  • Bile duct disease
  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Genetic disorders (such as hemochromatosis, Wilson's disease, cystic fibrosis)

Cirrhosis Signs & Symptoms

Early stages of cirrhosis may have no symptoms and may only be detected by blood tests or imaging exams (such as ultrasound, CT, or MRI).  If you have symptoms of cirrhosis, you may initially feel tired, have a decreased appetite, experience unexplained weight loss, feel mild abdominal discomfort, and have nausea/vomiting. If your liver function gets worse, you may also have:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
  • Easier bruising/bleeding
  • Confusion and impaired thinking ability
  • Leg and foot swelling
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Severely itchy skin
  • Darker urine

Diagnosing Cirrhosis

Our doctors perform a comprehensive assessment to determine if you have cirrhosis, including taking a medical history and performing a physical examination. We also offer:

  • Lab testing to check for liver injury
  • Fibroscan® (a special ultrasound that helps determine the amount of scarring in the liver)
  • Liver biopsy (examination of a small amount of liver tissue)
  • Endoscopic ultrasound or endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (endoscopic x-ray examination of your bile ducts)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging with elastography (MRE) to assess for scarring
  • CT scanning

Our Approach to Care

Your care team includes hepatologists (liver specialists), gastroenterologists, interventional radiologists, liver surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, registered dietitians, social workers, and others with experience caring for people with cirrhosis and other liver diseases. If you have another disease causing your cirrhosis, we can connect you with the experts needed to treat that illness.

Cirrhosis treatment

The liver scarring caused by cirrhosis may be permanent, but there are steps you can take to keep it from getting worse. Our liver disease team has extensive experience using the latest medications and techniques to manage cirrhosis proactively.

Avoiding alcohol and drugs. If you consume alcohol, we can advise you about how to stop drinking. It is also important for you to tell your doctor about any medications or supplements that you may be taking (including herbal or over-the-counter medicines) since many of them can make liver disease worse. With a healthy diet (guided by our registered dietitians), vitamin supplements, and avoiding certain drugs and alcohol, we can help prevent your cirrhosis from progressing.

Treating the underlying cause. If your cirrhosis is due to hepatitis, we can prescribe antiviral drugs for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, immune-suppressing medications for autoimmune hepatitis, and other medications for most underlying liver diseases.

Liver transplantation. If you have cirrhosis that becomes severe and life-threatening, you may need a liver transplant. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we use a variety of liver transplant approaches, including living donor liver transplantation.

Investigational therapies. This is no cure for cirrhosis other than replacing the liver, but Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University researchers are conducting studies of new ways to treat this disease and reduce the need for a liver transplant, and novel therapies for its complications. You may have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial of a promising new approach.

Why Choose Us

Cirrhosis may be common, but its optimal treatment requires specialized care that may not be widely available. At NewYork-Presbyterian, the experts in our Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation have a high level of expertise and experience caring for people with cirrhosis, with state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and specialized treatments such as liver transplantation — all available through one medical center. Without proper treatment, cirrhosis can be deadly. Get a head start on receiving the best cirrhosis care by calling us today and scheduling a consultation.

Contact Us

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NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Center for Liver Disease & Transplantation

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Gastroenterology & Hepatology