Cirrhosis of the liver is the replacement of normal, healthy tissue with hardened scar tissue. As a result, the liver stops being able to perform many of its vital functions.
The leading cause of cirrhosis in the United States is alcoholism, followed by chronic hepatitis C. Other causes include non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, autoimmune liver and bile duct disease and genetic diseases such as Wilson disease.
The Sutter Health network includes some of the leading liver specialists in the U.S., who are actively engaged in clinical research to discover new techniques and technologies to manage cirrhosis.
Specialists diagnose cirrhosis using liver function tests, Fibroscan and other imaging tests, endoscopy and liver biopsy. The goals of treatment are to prevent more damage through changes in lifestyle and diet and reduce side effects. If cirrhosis cannot be treated, a liver transplant may be recommended.
We also work with you to manage the many complications of cirrhosis, including:
- Portal Hypertension — This causes bleeding in the stomach, rectum and esophagus. Treatment options may include medication, endoscopic treatment to tie off bleeding blood vessels and the placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) to reroute blood flow and reduce pressure.
- Ascites — Fluid accumulation in the abdomen occurs with portal hypertension and can be addressed by inserting a long thin needle through the wall of the abdomen and withdrawing the fluid.
- Encephalopathy — Poor liver function even affects your ability to think as toxins build up in the brain, causing confusion and forgetfulness.
- Liver Cancer — Cirrhosis is a form of internal scarring in the liver, and is the leading cause of liver cancer. Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound every six months to screen for liver cancer.