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Cirrhosis

Definition

Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver and poor liver function. It is the last stage of chronic liver disease.

Alternative Names

Liver cirrhosis; Cryptogenic chronic liver disease

Causes

Cirrhosis is the end result of chronic liver damage caused by chronic liver disease. Common causes of chronic liver disease in the United States are:

Less common causes of cirrhosis include:

Symptoms

There may be no symptoms, or symptoms may come on slowly, depending on how well the liver is working.

Early symptoms include:

As liver function worsens, symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

Your doctor will do a physical exam to look for:

You may have the following tests to measure liver function:

Other tests to check for liver damage include:

You will need a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

 

Treatment

LIFESTYLE CHANGES

Some things you can do to help take care of your liver disease are:

MEDICINES FROM YOUR DOCTOR

OTHER TREATMENTS

When cirrhosis progresses to end-stage liver disease, a liver transplant may be needed.

Support Groups

You can often ease the stress of illness by joining a liver disease support group whose members share common experiences and problems.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Cirrhosis is caused by scarring of the liver. The liver cannot heal or return to normal function once damage is severe. Cirrhosis can lead to serious complications.

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

Get emergency medical help right away if you have:

Prevention

Don't drink alcohol heavily. Talk to your doctor if you are worried about your drinking. Take steps to prevent getting or passing hepatitis B or C.

References

Garcia-Tsao G, Lim JK; Members of Veterans Affairs Hepatitis C Resource Center Program. Management and treatment of patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension: recommendations from the Department of Veterans Affairs Hepatitis C Resource Center Program and the National Hepatitis C Program. Am J Gastroenterol. 2009;104:1802-1829.

Garcia-Tsao G. Cirrhosis and its sequelae. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 156.

Mehta G, Rothstein KD. Health maintenance issues in cirrhosis. Med Clin North Am. 2009;93:901-915.

O’Shea RS, Dasarathy S, McCullough AJ et al. AASLD Practice Guidelines: Alcoholic liver disease. HEPATOLOGY. 2010;51(1).

Carithers RL, Mcclain CJ. Alcoholic liver diseases. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds.Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 84.



Review Date: 10/13/2013
Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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