Cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver resulting from chronic (long-term) liver disease. The normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue and small lumps, and liver function can be impaired. The most common causes of cirrhosis are alcoholism, the hepatitis B and C viruses, and fatty liver disease. Patients with cirrhosis face an increased risk of liver cancer.
The symptoms of cirrhosis include jaundice (the skin and whites of the eyes turning yellowish), weakness, itching and fatigue.
Major complications of cirrhosis include excessive build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), deteriorating brain function (encephalopathy), infection, high blood pressure, progressive kidney failure, and veins rupturing and bleeding (variceal haemorrhage).
If the cirrhosis is at an early stage, the patient may not yet be experiencing any symptoms. In these cases, the condition tends to be incidentally diagnosed when the patient is being tested for other conditions. The best methods for diagnosing cirrhosis are ultrasound elastography and liver biopsy (tissue sampling using a small needle, under local anaesthesia)
Treating the causes of the cirrhosis can slow the progression of the condition, as well as reducing the risk of liver cancer. Interventional radiology techniques can help manage complications associated with the disease.
Ultimately, the treatment for cirrhosis is a liver transplant.