Cirrhosis

Definition

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

Causes

Cirrhosis is the end result of chronic liver damage caused by chronic (long-term) 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. Often, it is discovered by chance when an x-ray is done for another reason.

Early symptoms include:

As liver function worsens, symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider 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 might 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. In most cases, the liver cannot heal or return to normal function once damage is severe. Cirrhosis can lead to serious complications.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you develop symptoms of cirrhosis.

Get emergency medical help right away if you have:

Prevention

DO NOT drink alcohol heavily. Talk to your provider if you are worried about your drinking. Take steps to prevent getting or passing hepatitis B or C.


Review Date: 8/14/2015
Reviewed By: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist at Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Internal review and update on 09/01/2016 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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