Liver is the second largest organ situated in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. It is a vital organ that helps support nearly every other organ and has over 500 functions in the body; the major functions include digestion by the production of bile (helps in fat digestion), metabolism, detoxification, old RBCs destruction, protein synthesis, regulation of hormones, to name a few. The failure of liver to carry out its functions due to destruction/damage of its cells affects nearly all the organs.
The Damage Of Liver Can Be Grouped Into 4 Stages, Which Are:
Stage 1: Initial Stage of Liver Disease
The first stage of liver disease includes inflammation of the liver or bile duct. The inflammation causes abdominal pain as the body tries to fight the irritation/infection. If left untreated, the inflammation progresses and causes damage to the liver. The inflammation is reversible and can be treated to prevent progression into second stage of liver disease.
Stage 2: Fibrosis of Liver
The second stage of liver disease includes liver fibrosis, which causes scarring of the liver due to blockage of normal blood flow to the liver. The decrease in blood flow in and out of the liver leads to decreased functional capacity of the liver and causes damage to the liver. The symptoms might or might not be present until this stage, this stage is also treatable, and the liver damage might be reversed, as there is only small amount of liver damage. If not treated then the liver damage progresses to the third stage.
Stage 3: Cirrhosis of Liver
The untreated liver damage progresses into chronic liver damage known as cirrhosis of liver, which causes permanent scarring of the liver, hampering the function as well as blood flow in and out of the liver. This stage of liver damage presents with myriad of symptoms and if left untreated then it progresses into the fourth stage of liver disease. The treatment of third stage of liver disease includes prevention of further progression of disease and treating the underlying cause of the damage. This is one of the leading causes of liver damage and death in the US.
Stage 4: Liver Failure
If the cirrhosis is not treated then it leads to liver failure. Liver failure leads to 90% of irreversible liver damage and loss of function. Along with the symptoms of third stage, this stage might progress into confusion, coma and eventual death. This stage requires prompt medical attention.
What is Stage 3 Cirrhosis of Liver?
Liver cirrhosis is a chronic progression of fibrosis (scarring) of healthy liver tissue leading to functional deterioration of liver. Liver cirrhosis is caused by chronic liver damage caused by various conditions or diseases.
Generally, cirrhosis in the initial stages is without any signs or symptoms until and unless it has progressed into severe liver damage. The signs and symptoms when present include weakness, lethargy, easy bruising and bleeding, pruritis, jaundice, ascites, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, loss of appetite, swelling of legs, enlarged veins in the esophagus and upper abdomen, confusion, excessive sleepiness/drowsiness and coma.
There are various causes of liver cirrhosis, but the most common causes include chronic alcoholism, chronic viral disease (hepatitis B and C, HIV) and/or fatty liver. Other causes of liver cirrhosis include hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, biliary atresia, glycogen storage disease, Alagille syndrome, autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, infection (schistosomiasis), primary sclerosing cholangitis and/or medications such as methotrexate.
Complications of Cirrhosis
The most common cause of liver cirrhosis is chronic alcoholism and chronic viral diseases. It can lead to swelling in the abdomen and legs causing edema of legs and ascites, splenomegaly and easy bleeding.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of cirrhosis is typically based on medical history, physical examination, complete blood tests, imaging such as ultrasound, elastography, abdominal CT, liver/bile duct MRI, endoscopy and the most definitive test is liver biopsy.
The most definitive treatment of liver cirrhosis includes liver transplant. However, treating the underlying cause may prevent further progression of disease avoiding liver failure and death.
- Cirrhosis Of Liver: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Complications
- Decompensated Cirrhosis: Symptoms, Treatment, Life Expectancy, Prognosis
- How Long Can You Live With Liver Cirrhosis?
- The 4 Stages of Cirrhosis of Liver
- Can You Die Suddenly From Cirrhosis Of The Liver?
- What are the First Signs of Cirrhosis of the Liver?
- Can Blood Tests Detect Cirrhosis Of The Liver?