The liver plays a major role in food, vitamin, and hormone metabolism, which means it changes these substances into forms the body can use or into forms that allow easy removal to sustain normal body harmony. The word metabolism literally means change. The liver is like a chemical plant that continually takes the substances we eat (on purpose or accidentally) and changes them into forms for body use, storage for future use, or excretion (removal). The liver also contributes to various immune and blood-clotting activities and plays a major role in digestion. The liver also neutralizes many poisons that would otherwise cause grave results.
Hepatic (liver) cirrhosis (sir-ro-sis) means liver degeneration in which active, functional cells of the liver have undergone end-stage degeneration from any cause; it is considered very serious. Because of the multitude of functions of the liver, cirrhosis can be represented by as many symptoms as there are functions. Some symptoms are vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea, nervous signs, seizures, and depression.
Diagnosis is based on clinical signs, laboratory tests, and microscopic examinations (biopsies) of liver tissue sections. The liver samples may be taken during exploratory surgery or by laparoscopic or needle biopsy techniques. It is not uncommon to take more than one sample.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Treatment for hepatic cirrhosis is mainly symptomatic and supportive. Actual cure of the disease is not attainable, and comfort and safety are the primary goals.
2. Laboratory blood tests are required to determine the status of the patient, and they should be repeated at various intervals to periodically assess the overall status of the condition. Testing will help guide the treatment as well as provide you with information to make a decision regarding whether to continue treatment or not.