Which histologic features are characteristic of cirrhosis progression?

Updated: Jul 30, 2018
  • Author: David C Wolf, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF, FAASLD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

All chronic liver diseases that progress to cirrhosis have in common the histologic features of hepatic fibrosis and nodular regeneration. However, the patients' signs and symptoms may vary, depending on the underlying etiology of the disease.

As an example, patients with end-stage liver disease caused by hepatitis C may develop profound muscle wasting, marked ascites, and severe hepatic encephalopathy, with only mild jaundice. In contrast, patients with end-stage primary biliary cirrhosis may be deeply icteric, with no evidence of muscle wasting. These patients may complain of extreme fatigue and pruritus and have no complications of portal hypertension. In both cases, medical management is focused on the relief of symptoms. Liver transplantation should be considered as a potential therapeutic option, given the inexorable course of most cases of end-stage liver disease.


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