What Is The Treatment For Decompensated Cirrhosis?

What Is The Treatment For Decompensated Cirrhosis?

An appropriate treatment for cirrhosis depends on the cause and expansion of liver damage. The objectives of treatment are slowing down the progression of scar tissue in the liver and avoid or treat the symptoms and complications of cirrhosis. You may have to be admitted to the hospital if you have serious liver damage.

What Is The Treatment For Decompensated Cirrhosis?

Treatment For The Underlying Cause of Cirrhosis

In the first stage of cirrhosis, it is achievable to diminish damage to the liver by treating the underlying cause. The options include the following:

Treatment for Alcohol Dependency: Patients with cirrhosis caused by alcohol abuse need to stop drinking, considering that any amount of alcohol is toxic for the liver. If abandoning this habit is hard, your doctor will recommend a treatment program for alcohol addiction.

Weight Loss: People with cirrhosis caused by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can improve their health if they lose weight and control their blood sugar levels. It is vital to keep an adequate protein intake while attempting weight loss.

Medications to Control Hepatitis: Proper medications restrict further damage to liver cells originated by hepatitis B or C through specific treatment of these viruses.

Medications To Manage Other Causes And Symptoms Of Cirrhosis: Medications have the property of slowing down the progression of some types of liver cirrhosis. For example, for people with primary biliary cirrhosis (primary biliary cholangitis) that is diagnosed on its early stage, medication significantly delay evolution to cirrhosis.

Other medications can alleviate symptoms such as itching, fatigue and pain. Nutritional supplements are prescribed to counteract malnutrition related with cirrhosis and to avoid weak bones (osteoporosis).

Treatment of Complications of Cirrhosis

Excess Fluid in the Body: A low-sodium diet and medications to avoid the accumulation of fluid in the body can help control ascites and swelling. A more severe fluid buildup needs drainage procedures or other interventions to lower pressure. In some cases a small probe – transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt – is implanted into the vein of the liver to relieve blood pressure and reduce the rate of fluid accumulation.

Portal Hypertension: Some blood pressure medications effectively control elevated pressure in the veins that go to the liver (portal hypertension) and prevent serious bleeding. The doctor will perform an upper endoscopy regularly to identify enlarged veins in the esophagus or in the stomach (varices) that can bleed.

If you have varicose veins, you may need medication to reduce the risk of bleeding. If you cannot tolerate the medication, and you show signs that the varices bleed or are likely to bleed, you might need a procedure (band ligation) to stop the bleeding or diminish the risk of bleeding in the future.

Infections: You may be given antibiotics for infections. The doctor will probably recommend that you vaccinate against influenza, pneumonia and hepatitis.

Increased Liver Cancer Risk: The doctor will recommend that you have blood tests and ultrasounds twice a year to check signs of liver cancer.

Hepatic Encephalopathy: Medications may be prescribed to impede the buildup of toxins in the blood owing to deficient liver function.

Liver Transplantation

In late stage cases of cirrhosis, when the liver stops working, a liver transplant is the only treatment option. Patients should consider this option when they develop the symptoms of cirrhosis, such as jaundice (yellowish coloration of skin and mucous), important fluid retention (ascites), bleeding varices, hepatic encephalopathy, kidney dysfunction, or liver cancer. A liver transplant replaces the diseased liver with the healthy liver of a deceased donor or a part of the liver of a living donor. Cirrhosis is the most frequent cause for performing a liver transplantation.


Experts are working hard on the expansion of current treatments for cirrhosis, but the results have been limited. Because cirrhosis has a lot of causes and complications, there are many possible approaches. Increased screening tests, lifestyle changes, and new medications may improve the results in people who suffer from liver damage.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 11, 2019

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