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Cirrhosis

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Cirrhosis is a scarring of liver tissue that can result from many types of liver conditions. The tissue become hardened and atrophied as a result of changes that take place after repeated inflammation and cell injury.


Causes/risk factors

The many causes of cirrhosis include:

  • excessive exposure of the liver to alcohol, fat, certain medications, or metals (such as iron and copper that can accumulate as a result of genetic disease);
  • viral infections of the liver;
  • diseases in which the body's immune system attacks the liver;
  • or genetic disorders.

Some cases of cirrhosis occur without any known causes.


Signs & symptoms

Symptoms are sometimes few or nonspecific. Symptoms most closely associated with cirrhosis, though, include:

  • jaundice;
  • fatigue;
  • weakness;
  • itching;
  • and easy bruising.

Complications of cirrhosis include accumulation of fluid in different parts of the body, abdominal infections, internal bleeding, collection of toxic substances in the brain, failure of the kidney, lungs, or spleen. Cirrhosis is also a risk factor for cancer.


Diagnosis

In addition to taking a medical history and performing a physical examination, physicians may request the following diagnostic procedures in order to diagnose cirrhosis:

  • lab blood analysis;
  • CT;
  • MRI;
  • or needle aspiration of abdominal fluid.


Treatment

Once cirrhosis has the scarring process cannot be reversed. Typically liver function will worsen, at least slowly. But treatment seeks to slow this process and prevent further damage to the liver. It also addresses the complications and risks of cirrhosis. It can include:

  • change in diet;
  • avoiding drugs and alcohol;
  • treating viral infections;
  • immune system drugs;
  • drugs for fluid balance, infection, blood disorders;
  • abdominal interventions;
  • or liver transplantation.

Gastroenterologists at Aria Health ths work in cooperation with Jefferson's Liver Transplant Program to provide patients with advanced liver disease the opportunity for evaluation and possible transplantation.