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Lakes DHB Gastroenterology

Public Service, Gastroenterology & Hepatology (Liver)

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is the term used to describe a diseased liver that has been badly scarred, usually due to many years of damage. Many people who have developed cirrhosis have no symptoms or have only mild symptoms such as tiredness; which is very common. However, as the cirrhosis progresses, more serious symptoms can develop as the liver is no longer able to perform its normal functions.

Symptoms include:

  • swollen legs and an enlarged abdomen
  • easy bruising and bleeding
  • frequent bacterial infections
  • malnutrition, especially muscle wasting in the temples and upper arms
  • jaundice (a yellow tinge to the skin and eyes). 

Cirrhosis is diagnosed using a number of tests including: blood tests, ultrasound scans and a biopsy of the liver.

Depending on the cause of the cirrhosis and the severity of damage, treatments may include dietary changes, avoidance of substances such as alcohol, or anti-viral medication if there is a virus present. Medication may also be given to prevent complications and treat symptoms of liver failure.

This page was last updated at 1:46PM on August 9, 2021.