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Cirrhosis

Scarring and permanent injury to the liver, usually the result of chronic, long term damage. NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and National Library of Medicine

About Cirrhosis

A healthy liver is necessary for survival. The liver can regenerate most of its own cells when they become damaged. However, if injury to the liver is too severe or long lasting, regeneration is incomplete, and the liver creates scar tissue. Scarring of the liver, also called fibrosis, may lead to cirrhosis.

The buildup of scar tissue that causes cirrhosis is usually a slow and gradual process. In the early stages of cirrhosis, the liver continues to function. However, as cirrhosis gets worse and scar tissue replaces more healthy tissue, the liver will begin to fail.

Chronic liver failure, which is also called end-stage liver disease, progresses over months, years, or even decades. With end-stage liver disease, the liver can no longer perform important functions or effectively replace damaged cells... NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Endoscopic variceal ligation versus sclerotherapy variceal ligation for acute esophageal variceal bleeding patients with liver cirrhosis: a systematic review of the Chinese language literature

Bibliographic details: Zhong L C, Jia H, Li C P, Ou S T, Yan P.  Endoscopic variceal ligation versus sclerotherapy variceal ligation for acute esophageal variceal bleeding patients with liver cirrhosis: a systematic review of the Chinese language literature. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2007; 7(2): 135-141

The diagnostic value of serum hyaluronic acid for liver fibrosis in patients with chronic viral hepatitis: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Zhang Y, Liu G J, Wu T X.  The diagnostic value of serum hyaluronic acid for liver fibrosis in patients with chronic viral hepatitis: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2007; 7(2): 112-120

Response to standard of care antiviral treatment in patients with HCV liver cirrhosis: a systematic review

BACKGROUND: Patients with HCV liver cirrhosis are a category difficult to treat. The aim of this study was to establish the sustained virological response (SVR) rates in HCV patients with liver cirrhosis treated with standard of care therapy (Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin for 48 weeks in genotypes 1 and 4 and 24 weeks in genotypes 2 and 3).

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Summaries for consumers

Evidence supporting colchicine for alcoholic, viral, and cryptogenic liver fibrosis/cirrhosis is still lacking

Alcohol and hepatotropic viruses are major causes of liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis. Colchicine is an anti‐inflammatory and anti‐fibrotic drug. This systematic review could not demonstrate any significant beneficial effects of colchicine on mortality, liver‐related mortality, liver complications, liver biochemistry, or liver histology of patients with liver fibrosis or liver cirrhosis due to alcohol, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or unknown etiology. Colchicine was associated with a significant increase in adverse events. Accordingly, there seems to be no evidence for using colchicine for alcoholic, viral, or cryptogenic liver fibrosis/cirrhosis outside randomised clinical trials.

Transient elastography for measurement of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in people with alcoholic liver disease

Liver fibrosis is a change in the microscopic structure of the liver because of liver inflammation. After many years of excessive alcohol consumption, liver fibrosis progresses to cirrhosis. Abstaining from alcohol may stop the fibrosis from further progression into significant or severe fibrosis and cirrhosis. The latter lead to complications of underlying diseases, including cancer.

Terlipressin is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding from oesophageal varices which is a life threatening complication of cirrhosis of the liver

Esophageal varices are abnormal dilatations of veins in the lower part of the swallowing tube (oesophagus) that may develop in patients with chronic liver damage (cirrhosis). Bleeding from these varices is a life threatening complication with mortality between 20 and 50 per cent. Bleeding from varices may be treated with medications and/or with an endoscope which is a flexible tube with a camera at the end which allows direct visualization and treatment of bleeding varices. The reviewers evaluated the safety and effectiveness of a drug called terlipressin: they reported that terlipressin appears to be as safe as other treatments and that terlipressin may reduce the mortality from variceal bleeding as compared to placebo. The reviewers did not have sufficient data to decide whether terlipressin was better or worse than other available treatments such as other drugs (somatostatin, octreotide) or endoscopic treatment.

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More about Cirrhosis

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Other terms to know:
Fibrosis

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