Cirrhosis, also known as liver cirrhosis or hepatic cirrhosis, and end-stage liver disease, is the impaired liver function caused by the formation of scar tissue known as fibrosis due to damage caused by liver disease. Damage causes tissue repair and subsequent formation of scar tissue, which over time can replace normal functioning tissue, leading to the impaired liver function of cirrhosis. The disease typically develops slowly over months or years. Early symptoms may include tiredness, weakness, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, nausea and vomiting, and discomfort in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. As the disease worsens, symptoms may include itchiness, swelling in the lower legs, fluid build-up in the abdomen, jaundice, bruising easily, and the development of spider-like blood vessels in the skin. The fluid build-up in the abdomen may become spontaneously infected. More serious complications include hepatic encephalopathy, bleeding from dilated veins in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, and liver cancer.
|Other names||Cirrhosis of the liver, hepatic cirrhosis|
|Cross-section of human liver with cirrhosis|
|Symptoms||Tiredness, itchiness, swelling in the lower legs, jaundice, easily bruising, fluid build-up in the abdomen|
|Complications||Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy, dilated veins in the esophagus, liver cancer|
|Usual onset||Over months or years|
|Causes||Alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis|
|Diagnostic method||Blood tests, medical imaging, liver biopsy|
|Prevention||Vaccination (such as hepatitis B), avoiding alcohol, losing weight, exercising, low-carbohydrate diet, controlling hypertension and diabetes may help in those with NAFLD or NASH|
|Treatment||Depends on underlying cause|
|Frequency||2.8 million (2015)|
|Deaths||1.3 million (2015)|
Cirrhosis is most commonly caused by alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH – the progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), heroin abuse, chronic hepatitis B, and chronic hepatitis C. Heavy drinking over a number of years can cause alcoholic liver disease. Liver damage has also been attributed to heroin usage over an extended period of time as well. NASH has a number of causes, including obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal levels of cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Less common causes of cirrhosis include autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cholangitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis that disrupts bile duct function, genetic disorders such as Wilson's disease and hereditary hemochromatosis, and chronic heart failure with liver congestion.
Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent hepatitis B and the development of cirrhosis, but no vaccination against hepatitis C is available. No specific treatment for cirrhosis is known, but many of the underlying causes may be treated by a number of medications that may slow or prevent worsening of the condition. Avoiding alcohol is recommended in all cases. Hepatitis B and C may be treatable with antiviral medications. Autoimmune hepatitis may be treated with steroid medications. Ursodiol may be useful if the disease is due to blockage of the bile duct. Other medications may be useful for complications such as abdominal or leg swelling, hepatic encephalopathy, and dilated esophageal veins. If cirrhosis leads to liver failure, a liver transplant may be an option.
Cirrhosis affected about 2.8 million people and resulted in 1.3 million deaths in 2015. Of these deaths, alcohol caused 348,000, hepatitis C caused 326,000, and hepatitis B caused 371,000. In the United States, more men die of cirrhosis than women. The first known description of the condition is by Hippocrates in the fifth century BCE. The term "cirrhosis" was derived in 1819 from the Greek word "kirrhos," which describes the yellowish color of a diseased liver.