Last updated
The abdomen of a person with cirrhosis showing massive fluid buildup and very visible veins
Specialty Gastroenterology
Symptoms Tired, itchy, swelling in the lower legs, yellow skin, easily bruise, fluid build up in the abdomen [1]
Complications Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy, dilated veins in the esophagus, liver cancer [1]
Usual onsetOver months or years [1]
DurationLong term [1]
Causes Alcohol, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease [1] [2]
Diagnostic method Blood tests, medical imaging, liver biopsy [1]
Prevention Vaccination (such as hepatitis B), avoiding alcohol [1]
TreatmentDepends on underlying cause [1]
Frequency2.8 million (2015) [3]
Deaths1.3 million (2015) [4]

Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver does not function properly due to long-term damage. [1] This damage is characterized by the replacement of normal liver tissue by scar tissue. [1] Typically, the disease develops slowly over months or years. [1] Early on, there are often no symptoms. [1] As the disease worsens, a person may become tired, weak, itchy, have swelling in the lower legs, develop yellow skin, bruise easily, have fluid build up in the abdomen, or develop spider-like blood vessels on the skin. [1] The fluid build-up in the abdomen may become spontaneously infected. [1] Other complications include hepatic encephalopathy, bleeding from dilated veins in the esophagus or dilated stomach veins, and liver cancer. [1] Hepatic encephalopathy results in confusion and may lead to unconsciousness. [1]

Liver vital organ in vertebrates and some other animals

The liver, an organ only found in vertebrates, detoxifies various metabolites, synthesizes proteins, and produces biochemicals necessary for digestion. In humans, it is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, below the diaphragm. Its other roles in metabolism include the regulation of glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells and the production of hormones.

Tissue (biology) An ensemble of similar cells and their matrix with similar origin and function

In biology, tissue is a cellular organizational level between cells and a complete organ. A tissue is an ensemble of similar cells and their extracellular matrix from the same origin that together carry out a specific function. Organs are then formed by the functional grouping together of multiple tissues.


Fibrosis is the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ or tissue in a reparative or reactive process. This can be a reactive, benign, or pathological state. In response to injury, this is called scarring, and if fibrosis arises from a single cell line, this is called a fibroma. Physiologically, fibrosis acts to deposit connective tissue, which can interfere with or totally inhibit the normal architecture and function of the underlying organ or tissue. Fibrosis can be used to describe the pathological state of excess deposition of fibrous tissue, as well as the process of connective tissue deposition in healing. Defined by the pathological accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, fibrosis results in scarring and thickening of the affected tissue, it is in essence an exaggerated wound healing response which interferes with normal organ function.


Cirrhosis is most commonly caused by alcohol, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. [1] [2] Typically, more than two or three alcoholic drinks per day over a number of years is required for alcoholic cirrhosis to occur. [1] Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has a number of causes, including being overweight, diabetes, high blood fats, and high blood pressure. [1] A number of less common causes of cirrhosis include autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cholangitis, hemochromatosis, certain medications, and gallstones. [1] Diagnosis is based on blood testing, medical imaging, and liver biopsy. [1]

Alcoholism broad term for problems with alcohol

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a broad term for any drinking of alcohol that results in mental or physical health problems. The disorder was previously divided into two types: alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. In a medical context, alcoholism is said to exist when two or more of the following conditions are present: a person drinks large amounts over a long time period, has difficulty cutting down, acquiring and drinking alcohol takes up a great deal of time, alcohol is strongly desired, usage results in not fulfilling responsibilities, usage results in social problems, usage results in health problems, usage results in risky situations, withdrawal occurs when stopping, and alcohol tolerance has occurred with use. Risky situations include drinking and driving or having unsafe sex, among other things. Alcohol use can affect all parts of the body, but it particularly affects the brain, heart, liver, pancreas and immune system. This can result in mental illness, Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, irregular heartbeat, liver cirrhosis and increased cancer risk, among other diseases. Drinking during pregnancy can cause damage to the baby resulting in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Women are generally more sensitive than men to the harmful physical and mental effects of alcohol.

Hepatitis B human viral infection

Hepatitis B is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that affects the liver. It can cause both acute and chronic infections. Many people have no symptoms during the initial infection. Some develop a rapid onset of sickness with vomiting, yellowish skin, tiredness, dark urine and abdominal pain. Often these symptoms last a few weeks and rarely does the initial infection result in death. It may take 30 to 180 days for symptoms to begin. In those who get infected around the time of birth 90% develop chronic hepatitis B while less than 10% of those infected after the age of five do. Most of those with chronic disease have no symptoms; however, cirrhosis and liver cancer may eventually develop. These complications result in the death of 15 to 25% of those with chronic disease.

Hepatitis C human viral infection

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that primarily affects the liver. During the initial infection people often have mild or no symptoms. Occasionally a fever, dark urine, abdominal pain, and yellow tinged skin occurs. The virus persists in the liver in about 75% to 85% of those initially infected. Early on chronic infection typically has no symptoms. Over many years however, it often leads to liver disease and occasionally cirrhosis. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will develop complications such as liver failure, liver cancer, or dilated blood vessels in the esophagus and stomach.

Some causes of cirrhosis, such as hepatitis B, can be prevented by vaccination. [1] Treatment partly depends on the underlying cause, [1] but the goal is often to prevent worsening and complications. [1] Avoiding alcohol is recommended in all cases of cirrhosis. [1] Hepatitis B and C may be treatable with antiviral medications. [1] Autoimmune hepatitis may be treated with steroid medications. [1] Ursodiol may be useful if the disease is due to blockage of the bile ducts. [1] Other medications may be useful for complications such as abdominal or leg swelling, hepatic encephalopathy, and dilated esophageal veins. [1] In severe cirrhosis, a liver transplant may be an option. [1]

Vaccination administration of a vaccine to protect against disease

Vaccination is the administration of antigenic material to stimulate an individual's immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a pathogen. Vaccines can prevent or ameliorate infectious disease. When a sufficiently large percentage of a population has been vaccinated, herd immunity results. The effectiveness of vaccination has been widely studied and verified. Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases; widespread immunity due to vaccination is largely responsible for the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the elimination of diseases such as polio, measles, and tetanus from much of the world.

Bile duct

A bile duct is any of a number of long tube-like structures that carry bile, and is present in most vertebrates.

Hepatic encephalopathy brain disease that is characterized by loss of brain function, the occurrence of confusion, altered level of consciousness, and coma that results when the liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood

Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is an altered level of consciousness as a result of liver failure. Onset may be gradual or sudden. Other symptoms may include movement problems, changes in mood, or changes in personality. In the advanced stages it can result in a coma.

Cirrhosis affected about 2.8 million people and resulted in 1.3 million deaths in 2015. [3] [4] Of these, alcohol caused 348,000, hepatitis C caused 326,000, and hepatitis B caused 371,000. [4] In the United States, more men die of cirrhosis than women. [1] The first known description of the condition is by Hippocrates in the 5th century BCE. [5] The word cirrhosis is from Greek : κίρρωσις; kirrhosκιρρός "yellowish" and -osis (-ωσις) meaning "condition", describing the appearance of a cirrhotic liver. [6] [7] [8]

Hippocrates ancient Greek physician

Hippocrates of Kos, also known as Hippocrates II, was a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, who is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is often referred to as the "Father of Medicine" in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field as the founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine. This intellectual school revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece, establishing it as a discipline distinct from other fields with which it had traditionally been associated, thus establishing medicine as a profession.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Signs and symptoms

Liver cirrhosis. Liver Cirrhosis.png
Liver cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis has many possible manifestations. These signs and symptoms may be either a direct result of the failure of liver cells, or secondary to the resultant portal hypertension. There are also some manifestations whose causes are nonspecific but which may occur in cirrhosis. Likewise, the absence of any signs does not rule out the possibility of cirrhosis. [9] Cirrhosis of the liver is slow and gradual in its development. It is usually well advanced before its symptoms are noticeable enough to cause alarm. Weakness and loss of weight may be early symptoms.

Portal hypertension hypertension in the hepatic portal system, which are the portal vein and its branches, which drain from most of the intestines to the liver

Portal hypertension is hypertension in the hepatic portal system – made up of the portal vein and its branches, that drain from most of the intestine to the liver. Portal hypertension is defined as a hepatic venous pressure gradient. Cirrhosis is the most common cause of portal hypertension; other, less frequent causes are therefore grouped as non-cirrhotic portal hypertension. When it becomes severe enough to cause symptoms or complications, treatment may be given to decrease portal hypertension itself or to manage its complications.

Liver dysfunction

The following features are as a direct consequence of liver cells not functioning.

Spider angioma

A spider angioma is a type of telangiectasis found slightly beneath the skin surface, often containing a central red spot and reddish extensions which radiate outwards like a spider's web. They are common and may be benign, presenting in around 10–15% of healthy adults and young children. However, having more than three spider angiomas is likely to be abnormal and may be a sign of liver disease. It also suggests the probability of esophageal varices.

Estradiol a steroid, an estrogen, and the primary female sex hormone

Estradiol (E2), also spelled oestradiol, is an estrogen steroid hormone and the major female sex hormone. It is involved in the regulation of the estrous and menstrual female reproductive cycles. Estradiol is responsible for the development of female secondary sexual characteristics such as the breasts, widening of the hips, and a feminine pattern of fat distribution in women and is important in the development and maintenance of female reproductive tissues such as the mammary glands, uterus, and vagina during puberty, adulthood, and pregnancy. It also has important effects in many other tissues including bone, fat, skin, liver, and the brain. Though estradiol levels in men are much lower compared to those in women, estradiol has important roles in men as well. Aside from humans and other mammals, estradiol is also found in most vertebrates and crustaceans, insects, fish, and other animal species.

Palmar erythema is reddening of the palms at the thenar and hypothenar eminences.

Portal hypertension

Liver cirrhosis increases resistance to blood flow and leads to higher pressure in the portal venous system, resulting in portal hypertension. Effects of portal hypertension include:

Unestablished cause

There are some changes seen in cirrhosis whose causes are not clearly known. They may also be a sign of other non-liver related causes.

Advanced disease

As the disease progresses, complications may develop. In some people, these may be the first signs of the disease.


Liver cirrhosis has many possible causes; sometimes more than one cause is present in the same person. Globally, 57% of cirrhosis is attributable to either hepatitis B (30%) or hepatitis C (27%). [20] Alcohol consumption is another major cause, accounting for about 20% of the cases. [20]


The liver plays a vital role in synthesis of proteins (for example, albumin, clotting factors and complement), detoxification, and storage (for example, vitamin A). In addition, it participates in the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates.

Cirrhosis is often preceded by hepatitis and fatty liver (steatosis), independent of the cause. If the cause is removed at this stage, the changes are fully reversible.

The pathological hallmark of cirrhosis is the development of scar tissue that replaces normal parenchyma. This scar tissue blocks the portal flow of blood through the organ, raising the blood pressure and disturbing normal function. Recent research shows the pivotal role of the stellate cell, a cell type that normally stores vitamin A, in the development of cirrhosis. Damage to the hepatic parenchyma (due to inflammation) leads to activation of stellate cells, which increases fibrosis (through production of myofibroblasts) and obstructs hepatic blood flow. [26] In addition, stellate cells secrete TGF-β1, which leads to a fibrotic response and proliferation of connective tissue. Furthermore, it secretes TIMP 1 and 2, naturally occurring inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases, which prevents them from breaking down the fibrotic material in the extracellular matrix. [27] [28]

As this cascade of processes continues, fibrous tissue bands (septa) separate hepatocyte nodules, which eventually replace the entire liver architecture, leading to decreased blood flow throughout. The spleen becomes congested, which leads to hypersplenism and the spleen's retention of platelets, which are needed for normal blood clotting. Portal hypertension is responsible for the most severe complications of cirrhosis.


Micrograph showing cirrhosis. Trichrome stain. Cirrhosis high mag.jpg
Micrograph showing cirrhosis. Trichrome stain.

The gold standard for diagnosis of cirrhosis is a liver biopsy, through a percutaneous, transjugular, laparoscopic, or fine-needle approach. A biopsy is not necessary if the clinical, laboratory, and radiologic data suggests cirrhosis. Furthermore, there is a small but significant risk of complications from liver biopsy, and cirrhosis itself predisposes for complications caused by liver biopsy. [29]

Bonacini score [30]
ScorePlatelet count x109 ALT/AST ratio INR

The best predictors of cirrhosis are ascites, platelet count <160,000/mm3, spider angiomata, and a Bonacini cirrhosis discriminant score greater than 7 (as the sum of scores for platelet count, ALT/AST ratio and INR as per table). [31]

Lab findings

The following findings are typical in cirrhosis:

FibroTest is a biomarker for fibrosis that can be done instead of a biopsy. [33]

Other laboratory studies performed in newly diagnosed cirrhosis may include:


Doppler ultrasonography of the portal vein over 5 seconds, showing peaks of maximal velocity, as well as points of minimal velocity. Doppler ultrasonography of the portal vein in cirrhosis.jpg
Doppler ultrasonography of the portal vein over 5 seconds, showing peaks of maximal velocity, as well as points of minimal velocity.

Ultrasound is routinely used in the evaluation of cirrhosis. It may show a small and nodular liver in advanced cirrhosis along with increased echogenicity with irregular appearing areas. Other liver findings suggestive of cirrhosis in imaging are an enlarged caudate lobe, widening of the fissures and enlargement of the spleen. An enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), which normally measures less than 11–12 cm in adults, is suggestive of cirrhosis with portal hypertension, in the right clinical context. Ultrasound may also screen for hepatocellular carcinoma, portal hypertension, and Budd-Chiari syndrome (by assessing flow in the hepatic vein). An increased portal vein pulsatility is an indicator of cirrhosis, but may also be caused by an increased right atrial pressure. [34] Portal vein pulsatility can be quantified by pulsatility indices (PI), where an index above a certain cutoff indicates pathology:

Pulsatility indices (PI)
Average-based(Max - Min) / Average [34] 0.5 [34]
Max-relative(Max - Min) / Max [35] 0.5 [35] [36] - 0.54 [36]

Cirrhosis is diagnosed with a variety of elastography techniques. Because a cirrhotic liver is generally stiffer than a healthy one, imaging the liver's stiffness can give diagnostic information about the location and severity of cirrhosis. Techniques used include transient elastography, acoustic radiation force impulse imaging, supersonic shear imaging and magnetic resonance elastography. Compared to a biopsy, elastography can sample a much larger area and is painless. It shows a reasonable correlation with the severity of cirrhosis. [37]

Other tests performed in particular circumstances include abdominal CT and liver/bile duct MRI (MRCP).


Gastroscopy (endoscopic examination of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum) is performed in patients with established cirrhosis to exclude the possibility of esophageal varices. If these are found, prophylactic local therapy may be applied (sclerotherapy or banding) and beta blocker treatment may be commenced.

Rarely are diseases of the bile ducts, such as primary sclerosing cholangitis, causes of cirrhosis. Imaging of the bile ducts, such as ERCP or MRCP (MRI of biliary tract and pancreas) may aid in the diagnosis.


Cirrhosis leading to hepatocellular carcinoma (autopsy specimen) Hepatocellular carcinoma 1.jpg
Cirrhosis leading to hepatocellular carcinoma (autopsy specimen)

Macroscopically, the liver is initially enlarged, but with the progression of the disease, it becomes smaller. Its surface is irregular, the consistency is firm, and the color is often yellow (if associated with steatosis). Depending on the size of the nodules, there are three macroscopic types: micronodular, macronodular, and mixed cirrhosis. In the micronodular form (Laennec's cirrhosis or portal cirrhosis), regenerating nodules are under 3 mm. In macronodular cirrhosis (post-necrotic cirrhosis), the nodules are larger than 3 mm. Mixed cirrhosis consists of nodules of different sizes.

However, cirrhosis is defined by its pathological features on microscopy: (1) the presence of regenerating nodules of hepatocytes and (2) the presence of fibrosis, or the deposition of connective tissue between these nodules. The pattern of fibrosis seen can depend on the underlying insult that led to cirrhosis. Fibrosis can also proliferate even if the underlying process that caused it has resolved or ceased. The fibrosis in cirrhosis can lead to destruction of other normal tissues in the liver: including the sinusoids, the space of Disse, and other vascular structures, which leads to altered resistance to blood flow in the liver, and portal hypertension. [38]

As cirrhosis can be caused by many different entities which injure the liver in different ways, cause-specific abnormalities may be seen. For example, in chronic hepatitis B, there is infiltration of the liver parenchyma with lymphocytes. [38] In cardiac cirrhosis there are erythrocytes and a greater amount of fibrosis in the tissue surrounding the hepatic veins. [39] In primary biliary cholangitis, there is fibrosis around the bile duct, the presence of granulomas and pooling of bile. [40] Lastly in alcoholic cirrhosis, there is infiltration of the liver with neutrophils. [38]


The severity of cirrhosis is commonly classified with the Child-Pugh score. This scoring system uses bilirubin, albumin, INR, the presence and severity of ascites, and encephalopathy to classify patients into class A, B, or C. Class A has a favourable prognosis, while class C is at high risk of death. This system was devised in 1964 by Child and Turcotte, and modified in 1973 by Pugh and others. [41]

More modern scores, used in the allocation of liver transplants but also in other contexts, are the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score and its pediatric counterpart, the Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease (PELD) score.

The hepatic venous pressure gradient, (difference in venous pressure between afferent and efferent blood to the liver) also determines the severity of cirrhosis, although it is hard to measure. A value of 16 mm or more means a greatly increased risk of death. [42]


Key prevention strategies for cirrhosis are population-wide interventions to reduce alcohol intake (through pricing strategies, public health campaigns, and personal counseling), programs to reduce the transmission of viral hepatitis, and screening of relatives of people with hereditary liver diseases.[ citation needed ]

Little is known about factors affecting cirrhosis risk and progression. Research has suggested that coffee consumption appears to help protect against cirrhosis. [43] [44]


Generally, liver damage from cirrhosis cannot be reversed, but treatment can stop or delay further progression and reduce complications. A healthy diet is encouraged, as cirrhosis may be an energy-consuming process. Close follow-up is often necessary. Antibiotics are prescribed for infections, and various medications can help with itching. Laxatives, such as lactulose, decrease the risk of constipation; their role in preventing encephalopathy is limited.

Alcoholic cirrhosis caused by alcohol abuse is treated by abstaining from alcohol. Treatment for hepatitis-related cirrhosis involves medications used to treat the different types of hepatitis, such as interferon for viral hepatitis and corticosteroids for autoimmune hepatitis. Cirrhosis caused by Wilson's disease, in which copper builds up in organs, is treated with chelation therapy (for example, penicillamine) to remove the copper.

Preventing further liver damage

Regardless of the underlying cause of cirrhosis, consumption of alcohol and paracetamol, as well as other potentially damaging substances, are discouraged. Vaccination of susceptible patients should be considered for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Treating the cause of cirrhosis prevents further damage; for example, giving oral antivirals such as entecavir and tenofovir in patients of cirrhosis due to Hepatitis B prevents progression of cirrhosis. Similarly, control of weight and diabetes prevents deterioration in cirrhosis due to Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.


If complications cannot be controlled or when the liver ceases functioning, liver transplantation is necessary. Survival from liver transplantation has been improving over the 1990s, and the five-year survival rate is now around 80%. The survival rate depends largely on the severity of disease and other medical risk factors in the recipient. [45] In the United States, the MELD score is used to prioritize patients for transplantation. [46] Transplantation necessitates the use of immune suppressants (ciclosporin or tacrolimus).

Decompensated cirrhosis

Manifestations of decompensation in cirrhosis include gastrointestinal bleeding, hepatic encephalopathy (HE), jaundice or ascites. In patients with previously stable cirrhosis, decompensation may occur due to various causes, such as constipation, infection (of any source), increased alcohol intake, medication, bleeding from esophageal varices or dehydration. It may take the form of any of the complications of cirrhosis listed below.

People with decompensated cirrhosis generally require admission to a hospital, with close monitoring of the fluid balance, mental status, and emphasis on adequate nutrition and medical treatment – often with diuretics, antibiotics, laxatives or enemas, thiamine and occasionally steroids, acetylcysteine and pentoxifylline. [47] Administration of saline is avoided, as it would add to the already high total body sodium content that typically occurs in cirrhosis. Life expectancy without liver transplant is low, at most 3 years.

Palliative care

Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness, such as cirrhosis. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the patient's family and it is appropriate at any stage and for any type of cirrhosis. [48]

Especially in the later stages, people with cirrhosis experience significant symptoms such as abdominal swelling, itching, leg edema, and chronic abdominal pain which would be amenable for treatment through palliative care. [49] Because the disease is not curable without a transplant, palliative care can also help with discussions regarding the person's wishes concerning health care power of attorney, Do Not Resuscitate decisions and life support, and potentially hospice. [49] Despite proven benefit, people with cirrhosis are rarely referred to palliative care. [50]


Cirrhosis deaths per million persons in 2012
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Cirrhosis deaths per million persons in 2012
Disability-adjusted life year for cirrhosis of the liver per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004.
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Disability-adjusted life year for cirrhosis of the liver per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004.
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Salt restriction is often necessary, as cirrhosis leads to accumulation of salt (sodium retention). Diuretics may be necessary to suppress ascites. Diuretic options for inpatient treatment include aldosterone antagonists (spironolactone) and loop diuretics. Aldosterone antagonists are preferred for people who can take oral medications and are not in need of an urgent volume reduction. Loop diuretics can be added as additional therapy. [52]

If a rapid reduction of volume is required, paracentesis is the preferred option. This procedure requires the insertion of a plastic tube into the peritoneal cavity. Human albumin solution is usually given to prevent complications from the rapid volume reduction. In addition to being more rapid than diuretics, 4–5 liters of paracentesis is more successful in comparison to diuretic therapy. [52]

Esophageal variceal bleeding

For portal hypertension, nonselective beta blockers such as propranolol or nadolol are commonly used to lower blood pressure over the portal system. In severe complications from portal hypertension, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunting (TIPS) is occasionally indicated to relieve pressure on the portal vein. As this shunting can worsen hepatic encephalopathy, it is reserved for those patients at low risk of encephalopathy. TIPS is generally regarded only as a bridge to liver transplantation or as a palliative measure.[ citation needed ]

Hepatic encephalopathy

High-protein food increases the nitrogen balance, and would theoretically increase hepatic encephalopathy; in the past, this was therefore eliminated as much as possible from the diet. Recent studies show that this assumption was incorrect, and high-protein foods are even encouraged to maintain adequate nutrition. [53]

Hepatorenal syndrome

The hepatorenal syndrome is defined as a urine sodium less than 10 mmol/L and a serum creatinine > 1.5 mg/dl (or 24 hour creatinine clearance less than 40 ml/min) after a trial of volume expansion without diuretics. [54]

Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis

People with ascites due to cirrhosis are at risk of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis.

Portal hypertensive gastropathy

This refers to changes in the mucosa of the stomach in people with portal hypertension, and is associated with cirrhosis severity. [55]


Cirrhosis can cause immune system dysfunction, leading to infection. Signs and symptoms of infection may be nonspecific and are more difficult to recognize (for example, worsening encephalopathy but no fever).

Hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma is a primary liver cancer that is more common in people with cirrhosis. People with known cirrhosis are often screened intermittently for early signs of this tumor, and screening has been shown to improve outcomes. [56]


Cirrhosis and chronic liver disease were the tenth leading cause of death for men and the twelfth for women in the United States in 2001, killing about 27,000 people each year. [57] The cost of cirrhosis in terms of human suffering, hospital costs, and lost productivity is high. Cirrhosis is more common in men than in women. [58]

Established cirrhosis has a 10-year mortality of 34–66%, largely dependent on the cause of the cirrhosis; alcoholic cirrhosis has a worse prognosis than primary biliary cholangitis and cirrhosis due to hepatitis. The risk of death due to all causes is increased twelvefold; if one excludes the direct consequences of the liver disease, there is still a fivefold increased risk of death in all disease categories. [59]


The word "cirrhosis" is a neologism derived from Greek kirrhós meaning "yellowish, tawny" (the orange-yellow colour of the diseased liver) and the suffix -osis, i.e. "condition" in medical terminology. While the clinical entity was known before, it was René Laennec who gave it this name (in the same 1819 work in which he also described the stethoscope). [60]

Related Research Articles


Ascites is the abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Technically, it is more than 25 mL of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. Symptoms may include increased abdominal size, increased weight, abdominal discomfort, and shortness of breath. Complications can include spontaneous bacterial peritonitis.

Portal vein

The portal vein or hepatic portal vein is a blood vessel that carries blood from the gastrointestinal tract, gallbladder, pancreas and spleen to the liver. This blood contains nutrients and toxins extracted from digested contents. Approximately 75% of total liver blood flow is through the portal vein, with the remainder coming from the hepatic artery proper. The blood leaves the liver to the heart in the hepatic veins.

Hepatocellular carcinoma liver carcinoma that has material basis in undifferentiated hepatocytes

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer in adults, and is the most common cause of death in people with cirrhosis.

Alcoholic liver disease

Alcoholic liver disease is a term that encompasses the liver manifestations of alcohol overconsumption, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and chronic hepatitis with liver fibrosis or cirrhosis.

Budd–Chiari syndrome Human disease

Budd–Chiari syndrome is a very rare condition, affecting one in a million adults. The condition is caused by occlusion of the hepatic veins that drain the liver. It presents with the classical triad of abdominal pain, ascites, and liver enlargement. The formation of a blood clot within the hepatic veins can lead to Budd–Chiari syndrome. The syndrome can be fulminant, acute, chronic, or asymptomatic.

Alcoholic hepatitis hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) due to excessive intake of alcohol

Alcoholic hepatitis is hepatitis due to excessive intake of alcohol. It is usually found in association with fatty liver, an early stage of alcoholic liver disease, and may contribute to the progression of fibrosis, leading to cirrhosis. Signs and symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include jaundice, ascites, fatigue and hepatic encephalopathy. Mild cases are self-limiting, but severe cases have a high risk of death. Severe cases may be treated with glucocorticoids.

Liver disease Human disease

Liver disease is a type of damage to or disease of the liver.

Hepatorenal syndrome Human disease

Hepatorenal syndrome is a life-threatening medical condition that consists of rapid deterioration in kidney function in individuals with cirrhosis or fulminant liver failure. HRS is usually fatal unless a liver transplant is performed, although various treatments, such as dialysis, can prevent advancement of the condition.

Liver biopsy

Liver biopsy is the biopsy from the liver. It is a medical test that is done to aid diagnosis of liver disease, to assess the severity of known liver disease, and to monitor the progress of treatment.

Chronic liver disease in the clinical context is a disease process of the liver that involves a process of progressive destruction and regeneration of the liver parenchyma leading to fibrosis and cirrhosis. "Chronic liver disease" refers to disease of the liver which lasts over a period of six months. It consists of a wide range of liver pathologies which include inflammation, liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The entire spectrum need not be experienced.

Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt

Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt is an artificial channel within the liver that establishes communication between the inflow portal vein and the outflow hepatic vein. It is used to treat portal hypertension which frequently leads to intestinal bleeding, life-threatening esophageal bleeding and the buildup of fluid within the abdomen (ascites).

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease fatty liver disease characterized by the storing of excess fat in liver cells which is is not caused by heavy alcohol use

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is when excess fat builds up in the liver due to causes other than alcohol use. There are two types: non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Non-alcoholic fatty liver usually does not progress to liver damage or NASH. NASH includes both a fatty liver and liver inflammation. It may lead to complications such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure, or cardiovascular disease.

Liver failure

Liver failure or hepatic insufficiency is the inability of the liver to perform its normal synthetic and metabolic function as part of normal physiology. Two forms are recognised, acute and chronic. Recently a third form of liver failure known as acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) is increasingly being recognized.

The serum-ascites albumin gradient or gap (SAAG) is a calculation used in medicine to help determine the cause of ascites. The SAAG may be a better discriminant than the older method of classifying ascites fluid as a transudate versus exudate.

A portacaval shunt is a treatment for portal hypertension. A connection is made between the portal vein, which supplies 75% of the liver's blood, and the inferior vena cava, the vein that drains blood from the lower two-thirds of the body. The most common causes of liver disease resulting in portal hypertension are cirrhosis caused by alcohol abuse, and viral hepatitis. Less common causes include diseases such as hemochromatosis, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and portal vein thrombosis.

Hepatic veno-occlusive disease or veno-occlusive disease with immunodeficiency (VODI) is a condition in which some of the small veins in the liver are obstructed. It is a complication of high-dose chemotherapy given before a bone marrow transplant (BMT) and is marked by weight gain due to fluid retention, increased liver size, and raised levels of bilirubin in the blood. The name sinusoidal obstruction syndrome is now preferred if VODI happens as a result of chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation.

Portal venous pressure is the blood pressure in the hepatic portal vein, and is normally between 5-10 mmHg. Raised portal venous pressure is termed portal hypertension, and has numerous sequelae such as ascites and hepatic encephalopathy.


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