Cirrhosis and Related Liver Disorders

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Cirrhosis and Related Liver Disorders

The liver is the largest gland and second largest organ in the human body. It is also the only internal organ capable of regeneration following injury. Located in the abdominal cavity, this reddish brown organ is divided into lobes of different size and shape. The liver plays a critical role in metabolism, digestion, elimination, and detoxification, among other processes. This organ performs a surprisingly large number of functions that influence virtually all other body systems. This is why diseases of the liver can be so devastating. One class of chronic diseases affecting the liver is cirrhosis. (Kasper, 2008) Cirrhosis is a condition in which normal liver cells are damaged and replaced by scar tissue. As the scar tissue accumulates, blood flow through the organ is obstructed which prevents the liver from functioning normally. Cirrhosis can be difficult to notice early because the preliminary stages rarely demonstrate any signs or symptoms. As liver function deteriorates, the effects of cirrhosis become evident. Complications include swelling of the legs and abdomen, weight loss, jaundice, bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract and intense inching. (Kasper, 2008) The most common causes of cirrhosis are hepatitis C, fatty liver, and alcohol abuse. Other causes include repeated bouts of heart failure, cystic fibrosis, antitrypsin deficiency, and Wilson’s disease. Once diagnosed, treatment depends on the cause of the disease and what complications are present. The main goal is to slow the advance of scar tissue and reduce the impact of secondary health problems. Diagnosis can be made by assessing certain risk factors like alcohol use and obesity in conjunction with blood test and imaging. A liver biopsy provides absolute confirmation but is not always needed, as will be elaborated later. If deemed necessary, the…...

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