What is cirrhosis of the liver?Cirrhosis is an irreversible result of various disorders that damage liver cells over time. Cirrhosis is the result of damage to the liver cells from toxins, metabolic problems or other causes. As the liver cells die they are replaced by fibrous tissue.
Other liver cells regenerate in an abnormal manner, forming nodules surrounded by the fibrous tissue. Eventually the entire liver architecture can become abnormal, leading to decreased blood flow.
The liver weighs about 3 pounds and is the largest organ in the body. It is located in the upper right side of the abdomen, below the ribs (see figure below). When chronic diseases cause the liver to become permanently injured and scarred, the condition is called cirrhosis. The scar tissue that forms in cirrhosis harms the structure of the liver, blocking the flow of blood through the organ. The loss of normal liver tissue slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs, and toxins by the liver. Also, the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver is suppressed.
As liver throughput decreases blood will concentrate in the spleen causing it to enlarge. From this the platelet count falls because of splenic sequestration leading to abnormal bleeding. Blood can also flow backwards causing gastric and esophageal varices and haemorrhoids. If the damage is unchecked decreased bilirubin secretion produces to jaundice, there is immune system dysfunction, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and kidney dysfunction and failure (hepatorenal syndrome). In advanced cases there can also be hepatic encephalopathy as toxic metabolites, normally removed from the blood, reach the brain.
Cirrhosis is a serious condition. Only 30 per cent of patients with this problem will survive five years after diagnosis and the outlook is worse if the cause is alcohol and the patient continues to drink. Cirrhosis is the third most common cause of death after heart disease and cancer among people aged 45 to 65. The scar tissue that forms impairs the liver's ability to function and obstructs the flow of blood through the portal vein (the vein that carries blood from the intestines to the liver). As a result of this obstruction, high blood pressure (portal hypertension) occurs.
More information on cirrhosis of the liverWhat is cirrhosis of the liver? - Cirrhosis is an irreversible result of various disorders. Cirrhosis is the result of damage to the liver cells from toxins, metabolic problems or other causes.
What causes cirrhosis of the liver? - Long-term alcoholism is the primary cause of cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the result of damage to the liver cells from toxins, metabolic problems or other causes.
What are the symptoms of cirrhosis? - The symptoms will depend on how much damage has occurred to the liver. The patient may experience fatigue, weakness, and exhaustion.
What're the complications of cirrhosis? - Complications of cirrhosis include vomiting of blood, either from ulcers in the stomach or from leaking varicose veins in the lower end of the oesophagus.
How is cirrhosis diagnosed? - The doctor diagnoses cirrhosis from the patient's symptoms and from laboratory tests. A liver biopsy is the only definite method for diagnosing cirrhosis.
What are the treatments for cirrhosis? - The goal of treatment is to cure or reduce the condition causing cirrhosis, prevent or delay disease progression, and prevent or treat complications.
How to prevent cirrhosis of the liver? - The first step to prevent cirrhosis is to avoid excessive drinking. Taking precautions (practicing safe sex, avoiding dirty needles) to prevent hepatitis.
What is alcoholic cirrhosis? - Alcoholic cirrhosis is a condition of irreversible liver disease due to the chronic inflammatory and toxic effects of ethanol on the liver.