Pathophysiology of Liver Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis of the liver is a chronic disease that causes cell destruction and fibrosis (scarring) of hepatic tissues. Fibrosis alters normal liver structure and vasculature, impairing blood and lymph flow and resulting in hepatic insufficiency and hypertension in the portal vein. Complications include hyponatremia, water retention, bleeding esophageal varices, coagulopathy, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, and hepatic encephalopathy.
Cirrhosis is known in three major forms. In Laennec’s (alcohol-induced) cirrhosis, fibrosis occurs mainly around central veins and portal areas. This is the most common form of cirrhosis and results from chronic alcoholism and malnutrition. Postnecrotic (micronodular) cirrhosis consist of broad bands of scar tissue and results from previous acute viral hepatitis or drug-induced massive hepatic necrosis. Biliary cirrhosis consists of scarring of bile ducts and lobes of the liver and results from chronic biliary obstruction and infection (cholangitis), and is much rarer than the preceding forms.