Cirrhosis - The Complications Explained

Cirrhosis - The Complications Explained

Lets take a closer look into the complications of cirrhosis, why and how they happen:

  • Portal Hypertension - in the cirrhotic liver, blood flow through the liver is impaired, this causes the blood to back-up into the portal vein, this in turn causes high blood pressure to occur within the portal venous system. (Link provides more detailed info) 
Portal Hypertension is the cause for the most severe cirrhosis complications, such as the following:

  •   Oesophageal Varices - is the direct result of portal hypertension, they are extremley dilated veins in the oesophagus, these veins are extremley thin and have to withstand high portal venous system blood pressure. Therefore the veins are likey to rupture (burst), the likleyhood of repturing depends on the grading of the varices, which I will not go into here, but you can Google it.
            When veins rupture this is called a Variceal Haemorrhage, a variceal haemorrage is a               medical emergency, and can be potentially life threatening. Signs of a bleed are:
  • Haematemesis (vomiting blood)
  • Melaena (black tarry stools/poo)
  • Abdominal pain (mild to severe stomach pain)
  • Pallor (pale skin due to shock and blood loss)

  • Ascites - is the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, ascites has 3 grades, ascites happens because the cirrhotic liver cannot produce enough of the protein albumin, the protein keeps fluid from leaking out from the bloodstream, as the cirrhotic cannot produce ennough of it the fluid leaks into abdominal cavity. (Grades and lots more info on link)

  • Hepatic Encephalopathy - occurs in liver failure and advanced cirrhosis, it can also present after a variceal haemorrhage, the link provies all detailed info including the grades.


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