Blood tests used to assess the liver are known as liver function tests.
But liver function tests can be normal at many stages of liver disease.
Blood tests can also detect if you have low levels of certain substances, such as a protein called serum albumin, which is made by the liver.
A low level of serum albumin suggests your liver is not functioning properly.
A blood test may also look for signs of abnormal blood clotting, which can indicate significant liver damage.
Lab Tests Online has more information on liver function tests.
These are described below.
Scans may be needed to produce detailed images of your liver.
This may include:
Some scans may also measure the stiffness of the liver, which is a good indication of whether your liver is scarred.
During a liver biopsy, a fine needle is inserted into your body (usually between your ribs).
A small sample of liver cells is taken and sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope.
The biopsy is usually carried out under local anaesthetic, either as a day case or with an overnight stay in hospital.
Your liver tissue will be examined to determine the degree of scarring in the liver and the cause of the damage.
An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and a video camera at one end.
During an endoscopy, the instrument is passed down your oesophagus (the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) and into your stomach.
Pictures of your oesophagus and stomach are transmitted to an external screen. The doctor will be looking for swollen veins (varices), which are a sign of cirrhosis.