Liver cirrhosis; Chronic liver disease; End-stage liver disease; Liver failure - cirrhosis; Ascites - cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver and poor liver function. It is the last stage of chronic liver disease.
Cirrhosis is most often the end result of chronic liver damage caused by long-term (chronic) liver disease. Common causes of chronic liver disease in the United States are:
Less common causes of cirrhosis include:
There may be no symptoms, or symptoms may come on slowly, depending on how well the liver is working. Often, it is discovered by chance when an x-ray is done or blood is drawn for another reason.
Early symptoms include:
As liver function worsens, symptoms may include:
Your health care provider will do a physical exam to look for:
You may have the following tests to measure liver function:
Other tests to check for liver damage include:
You might need a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
Some things you can do to help take care of your liver disease are:
MEDICINES FROM YOUR DOCTOR
When cirrhosis progresses to end-stage liver disease, a liver transplant may be needed.
You can often ease the stress of illness by joining a liver disease support group whose members share common experiences and problems.
Cirrhosis is caused by scarring of the liver. In most cases, the liver cannot heal or return to normal function once damage is severe. Cirrhosis can lead to serious complications.
Complications may include:
Contact your provider if you develop symptoms of cirrhosis.
Get emergency medical help right away if you have:
DO NOT drink alcohol. Talk to your provider if you are worried about your drinking. Take steps to prevent getting hepatitis B or C or passing it to other people.
Garcia-Tsao G. Cirrhosis and its sequelae. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 144.
Kamath PS, Shah VH. Overview of cirrhosis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 74.
Singal AK, Bataller R, Ahn J, Kamath PS, Shah VH. ACG Clinical Guideline: alcoholic liver disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2018;113(2):175-194. PMID: 29336434 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29336434/.
Wilson SR, Withers CE. The liver. In: Rumack CM, Levine D, eds. Diagnostic Ultrasound. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 4.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 2/6/2022
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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