Cirrhosis is a disease in which the liver becomes permanently damaged and the normal structure of the liver is changed. Healthy liver cells are replaced by scarred tissue. The liver is not able to do its normal functions, such as detoxifying harmful substances, purifying blood, and making vital nutrients.
In addition, scarring slows down the normal flow of blood through the liver, causing blood to find alternate pathways. This may result in bleeding blood vessels known as gastric or esophageal varices.
Cirrhosis of the Liver
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Causes of cirrhosis include:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Hepatitis C, B, and D
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Inherited diseases, such as glycogen storage disease, hemochromatosis, or cystic fibrosis
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), associated with:
Bile duct blockages, associated with:
- Congenital defects
- Scarred ducts—sometimes related to inflammatory bowel disorders
- Gallbladder surgery
- Drugs and toxins:
- Heart failure, causing blood to repeatedly back up into the liver
Last reviewedSeptember 2013by Kim Carmichael, 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.