Cirrhosis is a late stage of scarring of the liver caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis and chronic alcoholism. In this process, scar tissue forms.
Each time your liver is injured — whether by disease, excessive alcohol consumption or another cause — it tries to repair itself. In the process, scar tissue forms. As cirrhosis progresses, more and more scar tissue forms, making it difficult for the liver to function (decompensated cirrhosis). Advanced cirrhosis is life-threatening.
Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) may be recommended. This noninvasive advanced imaging test detects the ending or stiffening of the liver. Other imaging tests, such as MRI, CT, and ultrasound, may also be done. The increased pressure in the portal vein can cause fluid to accumulate in the legs (edema) and in the abdomen (ascites). Edema and ascites also may result from the inability of the liver to make enough of certain blood proteins, such as albumin.
A liver damaged by cirrhosis isn't able to clear toxins from the blood as well as a healthy liver can. These toxins can then build up in the brain and cause mental confusion and difficulty concentrating. With time, hepatic encephalopathy can progress to unresponsiveness or coma.
You may not have any symptoms at first. But as time goes on, and the damage to your liver gets worse, you may notice things like:
You could also bleed or bruise easily and have swelling in your legs or belly. You may also notice changes in your skin, such as:
Cirrhosis doesn't happen overnight. You get damage to your liver over a long period of time. The most common things that raise your odds for cirrhosis are:
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