Liver cirrhosis: causes, symptoms, treatment and prognosis

Liver cirrhosis involves the replacement of large amounts of liver tissue by connective tissue. As a result, the function of the liver continues to deteriorate. The liver often becomes smaller: shriveled liver. What are the causes, symptoms and how is liver cirrhosis treated? What does the prognosis depend on?

Article content

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Causes of liver cirrhosis
  • Symptoms of liver cirrhosis
  • Complications of liver cirrhosis
  • Diagnosis of liver cirrhosis
  • Treatment of liver cirrhosis
  • Prognosis liver cirrhosis
  • Future


Cirrhosis of the liver

Liver cirrhosis is damage to the liver that cannot be repaired. It occurs in the late stages of various liver diseases. Liver cirrhosis is more common in people over forty years of age and more common in men than in women. The normal liver tissue is destroyed and replaced by a kind of fibrous scar tissue. The damage to the liver ensures that the liver cannot do its job properly and it cannot be repaired.

Causes of liver cirrhosis

  • Viral hepatitis, especially the hepatitis B or C virus, is the most common cause of liver cirrhosis worldwide. In the Western world, liver cirrhosis is usually caused by drinking too much alcohol or by hepatitis C.
  • Another cause is an autoimmune disorder: primary biliary cirrhosis. It is more common in women than in men. Bile is made in the liver and is necessary for metabolism. It leaves the cells of the liver through bile ducts. In primary biliary cirrhosis, these ducts are inflamed and the drainage of bile is obstructed. The bile accumulates in the liver and causes damage.
  • Sclerosing cholangitis can also be the reason for liver cirrhosis. In this condition, the larger bile ducts in the liver are inflamed. The cause is unknown but may correlate with a few inflammatory diseases in the abdomen such as: inflammation of the colon, or Crohn’s disease.
  • If you have had surgery on the bile duct, liver cirrhosis can also develop.
  • Hemochromatosis can also cause cirrhosis. This is a hereditary condition that affects metabolism, iron is deposited in body tissue, which becomes affected.


Symptoms of liver cirrhosis

Often someone with liver cirrhosis has no complaints, it is then discovered when someone is examined for another disease or condition.
If anyone has complaints, they concern:

  • Not feeling hungry;
  • Loss of weight;
  • Feeling tired;
  • A nauseous feeling;
  • The skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow: jaundice


Complications of liver cirrhosis

  • In the long term, life-threatening complications can occur. Cirrhosis of the liver can cause high blood pressure in the veins of the esophagus . These can swell and bleed.
  • Someone can become malnourished because fats and certain vitamins cannot be absorbed.
  • Liver cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer or liver failure . Indications of liver failure: a swollen abdominal cavity filled with fluid, visible veins reminiscent of spider webs. Failure can lead to bleeding and easy bruising. The reason is that the liver produces fewer or no clotting factors.


Diagnosis of liver cirrhosis

The doctor will perform a physical examination, take blood to assess the function of the liver and look for a hepatitis virus. The following examinations can be performed to view the shape of the liver: ultrasound scan, CT scan, MRI. To determine the diagnosis, a liver biopsy can be performed. A piece of liver is then removed for microscopic examination.

Treatment of liver cirrhosis

Damage to the liver caused by cirrhosis cannot be repaired, but if the cause of the liver cirrhosis is treated, further damage can be prevented. Whatever the reason, it is always important to stop consuming alcohol. If someone has a nutrient deficiency, supplements can be prescribed or a diet can be changed. If liver cirrhosis worsens and a person is otherwise healthy, a person may be able to undergo a liver transplant.

Prognosis liver cirrhosis

The prognosis for liver cirrhosis depends on the extent to which the liver is damaged, so the outlook can be very variable. If the condition is mild, people can live for many years.


The possibility of stem cell or liver cell transplantation to restore liver function is being investigated. Research is ongoing.

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  • Chronic hepatitis: causes, symptoms, treatment
  • Liver failure: causes, symptoms, treatment and prognosis
  • Liver cancer: causes, symptoms, treatment, prognosis
  • Hepatitis: causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
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