Cirrhosis is a condition in which healthy liver is replaced slowly and progressively by scar tissue, leading to liver dysfunction. Patients with liver cirrhosis need close monitoring, screening for esophageal varices with gastroscopy and regular imaging for liver cancer
What causes cirrhosis?
- Heavy and chronic alcohol consumption
- Chromic infections from hepatitis B and C
- Fatty liver
- Certain medicines and chemicals
What are the symptoms?
As cirrhosis progresses, non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite or weight may occur. In later stages of the disease symptoms may include:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Skin irritation, easy bleeding such as nosebleed or gum bleeding
- Edema of the feet
- Esophageal varices (veins in the esophagus or stomach). These varicose veins may break, resulting in vomiting with blood or blood in the stool
- Liver cancer can occur in cirrhosis
How to diagnose cirrhosis
- From the patient's symptoms
- Laboratory and liver imaging with CT or liver ultrasound
- A special Fibroscan examination may be necessary (a device that measures the elasticity of the liver)
- Liver biopsy if necessary
What is the treatment?
The goal of the treatment is to prevent further liver damage and its complications. We must first know the cause of cirrhosis. For example, a person with liver cirrhosis due to alcohol is treated differently from the patient with hepatitis B cirrhosis. Various medicines are used in patients with cirrhosis. For example, diuretics help to remove excess fluid in the body and laxatives, such as lactulose, help absorb toxins and speed up their elimination.