Cirrhosis is a medical condition where the healthy tissue of the liver is replaced by scar tissues. This makes it difficult for the liver to function properly. The scar tissue slows down the processing of natural toxins, drugs, hormones and nutrients. This occurs due to the blockage of the flow of blood through the liver. It can also slow down the manufacturing of proteins made by the liver. It can even cause death if not treated on time.
What causes liver Cirrhosis?
Liver Cirrhosis is most commonly caused due to alcohol abuse, fatty liver and hepatitis C. Other causes of Cirrhosis in the liver include:
- Fatty liver which is associated with diabetes and obesity.
- Acute viral infections of the liver such as hepatitis D, B and C. This is somewhat rare.
- Blockage of the bile which transfers bile to the intestines. Bile is generally formed in the liver and it helps in digesting food. Blockage of the bile duct can also be caused due to bilary atresia. In this condition, the bile ducts are damaged or absent which causes the bile to stay in the liver. This condition usually affects babies.
- Continuous bouts of heart failure causing fluid to build up in the liver.
- Diseases such as cystic fibrosis, glycogen storage disease (inability of the body to process glycogen into sugar), alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency (absence of a certain enzyme in the liver).
- Diseases and disorders which are caused by hemochromatosis (excessive iron content is deposited in the liver and other vital organs), Wilson’s disease (unusual storage of copper inside the liver) and abnormal liver functioning.
- Rare factors like parasitic infections, exposure to environmental toxins and reaction to certain prescription drugs can also contribute to Cirrhosis.
How is Cirrhosis diagnosed?
- Physical exam- The doctor usually performs a physical exam to see how large your liver is and observes how your liver feels. A liver affected by Cirrhosis might feel irregular and bumpy instead of smooth.
- CT scan and ultrasound- Tests like ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT scan) and radioisotope scan is performed to analyze Cirrhosis.
- Biopsy- During a biopsy, a tissue from the liver is taken and tested for diagnosing Cirrhosis of the liver.
- Surgery- This is usually performed in severe cases, a laparoscope is inserted through an incision inside the abdomen. After the doctor gets an entire view of the liver he performs the surgery.