Cirrhosis - 2011 update from Am Fam Physician

Cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. The mortality rate is 9.7 per 100,000 persons.

The most common causes of cirrhosis are:

- alcohol abuse
- viral hepatitis
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is emerging as an increasingly important cause

Patients with cirrhosis should be screened for hepatocellular carcinoma with imaging studies every 6-12 months.

Causes of hepatic encephalopathy include:

- constipation
- infection
- gastrointestinal bleeding
- some medications
- electrolyte imbalances
- noncompliance with medical therapy

Treatment

Lactulose and rifaximin are aimed at reducing serum ammonia levels.

Ascites should be treated initially with salt restriction and diuresis. Physicians should be vigilant for spontaneous bacterial peritonitis.

Patients with acute GI bleeding should be monitored in an intensive care unit, and should have endoscopy performed within 24 hours.

Prevention

Mechanisms to reduce the incidence of cirrhosis:

- treat alcohol abuse
- screen for viral hepatitis
- control risk factors for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Cirrhosis: Phil's story (video):



From NHSChoices: Many people enjoy a drink in the pub after work without realising how social drinking can damage health. Phil didn't realise the harm his alcohol intake was doing until he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. He talks about his experience and the shock he felt at being diagnosed.

References

Cirrhosis: diagnosis, management, and prevention. Starr SP, Raines D. Am Fam Physician. 2011 Dec 15;84(12):1353-9.

Cirrhosis - JAMA Patient Page, 2012.

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