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Cirrhosis of the Liver


Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Cirrhosis is a disease in which the liver cells become permanently damaged, and the structure and function of the liver is permanently altered. Once liver damage has occurred, the damaged areas are replaced by scar tissue. Blood does not flow properly through scarred liver tissue, and this interferes with important liver functions.

The liver plays a crucial role in numerous bodily functions, including the production of blood clotting factors, production of bile, cholesterol metabolism, maintenance of normal blood sugar concentrations, and detoxification of toxins such as alcohol and drugs. Because the role of the liver is so diverse and so critical to life, liver diseases such as cirrhosis can severely disrupt normal body functions.

Many conditions can lead to cirrhosis, including viral hepatitis, inherited diseases, prolonged obstruction of the bile ducts, severe drug reactions, and chronic exposure to environmental toxins. The most common cause of cirrhosis is chronic alcohol abuse. Approximately 27,000 Americans die from cirrhosis each year.

What are the risk factors for cirrhosis?
What are the symptoms of cirrhosis?
How is cirrhosis diagnosed?
What are the treatments for cirrhosis?
Are there screening tests for cirrhosis?
How can I reduce my risk of cirrhosis?
What questions should I ask my doctor?
What is it like to live with cirrhosis?
Where can I get more information about cirrhosis?

References:

Cirrhosis. American Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/cirrhosis. Updated December 3, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2013.

Cirrhosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 27, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2013

Cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis/index.aspx. Updated February 21, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2013.



Last reviewed March 2014 by Daus Mahnke, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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