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Cirrhosis of the liver is a chronic disease that causes cell destruction and fibrosis (scarring) of hepatic tissue. 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 a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when scarring damages the liver. This scarring replaces healthy tissue and prevents the liver from working normally. Cirrhosis usually develops after years of liver inflammation. When chronic diseases cause the liver to become permanently injured and scarred, the condition is called Cirrhosis. Cirrhosis harms the structure of the liver and blocks the flow of blood. The loss of normal liver tissue slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs, and toxins by the liver. Also, the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver is suppressed. People with cirrhosis often have few symptoms at first. The person may experience fatigue, weakness, and exhaustion. Loss of appetite is usual, often with nausea and weight loss. As liver function declines, water may accumulate in the legs and the abdomen (ascites). A decrease in proteins needed for blood clotting makes it easy for the person to bruise, bleeding or infection. In the later stages of cirrhosis, jaundice (yellow skin) may occur, caused by the buildup of bile pigment that is passed by the liver into the intestines. The liver of a person with cirrhosis also has trouble removing toxins, which may build up in the blood. Drugs taken usually are filtered out by the liver, and this cleansing process also is slowed down by cirrhosis. People with cirrhosis often are very sensitive to medications and their side effects. The doctor often can diagnose cirrhosis from the patient’s symptoms and from laboratory tests. During a physical exam, the doctor could notice a change in how your liver feels or how large it is. If the doctor suspects Cirrhosis, you will be given blood tests. The purpose of these tests is to find out if liver disease is present. In some cases, other tests that take pictures of the liver are performed such as the computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan, and ultrasound. The doctor may decide to confirm the diagnosis by putting a needle through the skin (biopsy) to take a sample of tissue from the liver. In some cases, cirrhosis is diagnosed during surgery when the doctor is able to see the entire liver.
ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY:
The liver is located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity, beneath the diaphragm and on top of the stomach, right kidney and intestines. The liver, a dark reddish-brown organ that weighs about 3 pounds, has multiple functions.
There are two distinct sources that supply blood to the liver:
- oxygenated blood flows in from the hepatic artery
- nutrient-rich blood flows in from the portal vein
The liver holds about one pint (13 percent) of the body’s blood supply at any given moment.
The liver consists of two main lobes, both of which are made up of thousands of lobules. These lobules are connected to small ducts that connect with larger ducts to ultimately form the hepatic duct. The hepatic duct transports the bile produced by the liver cells to the gallbladder and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).
Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN
Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.
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