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Conditions InDepth: Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver that causes permanent damage. The scar tissue causes problems with blood flow and prevents the liver from working as it should.

Cirrhosis of the Liver

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The liver has many roles in the body. It helps make blood clotting factors and bile. It process cholesterol and maintain normal blood sugar levels. It also helps remove toxins like alcohol and drugs from the body. A liver that does not function as it should can disrupt normal functions in the body.

Many conditions can lead to cirrhosis, such as viral hepatitis, inherited diseases, obstruction of the bile ducts, severe drug reactions, and long term exposure to toxins. The most common cause of cirrhosis is chronic alcohol abuse.


Cirrhosis. American Liver Foundation website. Available at: Accessed January 6, 2021.

Cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Accessed January 6, 2021.

Cirrhosis of the liver. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed January 6, 2021.

Ge PS, Runyon BA. Treatment of Patients with Cirrhosis. N Engl J Med. 2016 Aug 25;375(8):767-777.

Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD