Decompensated liver cirrhosis is the complications that occur as a result of advanced liver disease. This is also an acute deterioration in liver function in a patient with cirrhosis and is characterized by jaundice, ascites, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatorenal syndrome, or variceal hemorrhage. People with compensated cirrhosis often don’t have symptoms because their liver is still properly functioning. However, as liver function decreases, it can become decompensated cirrhosis.
It is important to note that people with decompensated liver cirrhosis, are nearing end-stage liver failure and are usually candidates for a liver transplant.
Symptoms of Decompensation Cirrhosis
- Weight loss
- Easy bleeding and brushing
- Bloated abdomen due to fluid accumulation
- Confusion, slurred speech, or drowsiness
- Swollen legs
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Spider veins
- Redness on the palms of the hands
- Shrinking testicles and breast growth in men
- Unexplained itchiness
Causes of Decompensated Cirrhosis
Decompensated cirrhosis happens when the scarring in the liver becomes so severe that the liver can’t function properly. Damage of the liver leads to scarring, which could eventually turn into decompensated cirrhosis. The most common causes of cirrhosis include:
- Long-term, heavy alcohol consumption
- Chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- The buildup of fat in the liver
Other possible causes of cirrhosis include:
- Buildup of iron
- Cyst fibrosis
- Buildup of copper
- Poor formed bile of the liver
- Bile duct injuries
- Liver infections
- Taking certain medications, such as methotrexate
Diagnosis of Decompensated Liver Cirrhosis
Indicators of decompensated cirrhosis used by doctors during the diagnosis of decompensated liver cirrhosis include symptoms of cirrhosis such as jaundice. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by doing blood tests to determine liver function.
Bilirubin and creatinine serum samples may also be taken to come up with a model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score. This is the model that is commonly used in the diagnosis of advanced liver disease.
Liver biopsy is at times recommended. During this procedure, doctors take a small sample of liver tissue for purposes of analyzing it. This way, the doctors can understand the extent to which the patient’s liver is damaged.
A series of imaging tests to look at the size and shape of one’s liver and spleen may also be used. They include:
- MRI scans
- CT scans
- Magnetic resonance elastography or transient elastography, which are imaging tests that detect hardening of the liver.
Treatment of Decompensated Liver Cirrhosis
The main goal of treating decompensated liver cirrhosis is focusing on stopping its progression and managing the symptoms to improve the quality of life of the patient. It is also important to note that the treatment of decompensated cirrhosis depends on its cause. This could include:
- Hepatitis medication
- Losing weight
- Medications meant to control other causes like penicillamine for Wilson’s disease
- Stopping the consumption of alcohol
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