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Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver. It is the end result of chronic inflammation taking place in the liver. It is a natural response the body has in attempting to heal itself. Unfortunately, cirrhosis of the liver is inflammation and repair of the liver that has gotten out of control. There are many different causes of cirrhosis. There is a popular misconception that alcohol abuse is the major cause of cirrhosis. From a statistical standpoint, alcohol accounts for approximately 49% of all cases of cirrhosis. The other common causes of cirrhosis include nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C, autoimmune hepatitis, iron overload secondary to hereditary hemochromatosis, alpha one antitrypsin deficiency, Wilson's disease, and disorders of the bile ducts such as primary biliary cirrhosis, and sclerosing cholangitis.

Cirrhosis tends to develop slowly over time. Depending on the underlying disease, it could take many years or decades until cirrhosis develops. Once cirrhosis develops, the majority of the liver is replaced by nonfunctioning scar tissue. This scar tissue causes a number of alterations on how the liver functions.

Once cirrhosis develops, blood flow through the liver is impaired. A condition called portal hypertension develops, which results in a number of complications commonly seen in patients with cirrhosis. These complications include the development of hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, low platelet count, and the risk of developing and bleeding from esophageal or gastric varices.

Patients with cirrhosis are at risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a primary cancer that develops in the liver.

Symptoms of cirrhosis are quite numerous, but typically include weakness, fatigue, loss of muscle mass, a decrease in libido, edema and swelling, and the development of confusion related to hepatic encephalopathy. As mentioned earlier, the development of liver cancer is associated with all cases of cirrhosis.

For patients that are being evaluated for liver transplant, the number one disease leading to cirrhosis that is transplanted currently is chronic hepatitis C. it is anticipated that in the next 5 years, fatty liver disease, a result of the worldwide obesity epidemic, may surpass hepatitis C as the most common liver condition that is transplanted. Other common diseases leading to cirrhosis that require liver transplant include alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis, hereditary hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, chronic hepatitis B, and fulminant liver failure due to hepatitis A, medications, and other unknown viruses.

Obesity and Fatty Liver Disease

Obesity, and all of its related complications, is more serious than most adults in America believe. More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and certain types of cancer, are some of the leading causes of preventable death. We are seeing an increase in the number of young children and adolescents developing obesity, and all of the related complications.

The cost of obesity is staggering, with annual medical cost of obesity exceeding $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars. The medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

Dr. Galati and the Liver Specialists of Texas team are dedicated to evaluate, treat, and manage all aspects of obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD and NASH), including the complication of cirrhosis and liver failure. Developing a customized plan of care for each patient they see is their objective.

Liver Transplant Resources

Dr. Galati has been involved in Liver Transplantation since 1989. As Medical Director for the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation at Houston Methodist Hospital, Dr. Galati has cared for thousands of patients with advanced liver disease. In those with the most severe form of advanced liver disease and cirrhosis, liver transplantation is a life-saving surgery. For more information on liver transplantation, click here.

Indications for liver transplant include:

Online LIVER Second Opinion

  • 1

    From the comfort of your home, without the need to spend additional money on travel, lodging, and food, receive and expert second opinion from the expert physicians at Liver Specialists of Texas

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    There are five steps in the process of requesting a second opinion. We anticipate the steps will take you about 30-65 minutes to complete.

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    Have your medical records or those of your loved one on hand as you fill out the medical history questionnaire portion of the online process. The medical history questionnaire is detailed so having medical records to quickly reference will help make the process more efficient.

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    To start the process of an Online Liver Second Opinion, please fill out the initial contact form and fax back to our office. A representative from our office will call you for additional details.