Learn about the Prognosis of Cirrhosis

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Sep 03, 2012

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Quick Bites

  • Cirrhosis of the liver is a potentially fatal condition.
  • It may cause confusion, drowsiness, altered consciousness.
  • Cirrhosis increases the risk of liver cancer.
  • It decreases longevity (i.e. lifespan) of the affected person.

Cirrhosis is a liver disease caused because of irreversible scarring of the liver. There is no cure for cirrhosis. Liver damage that has occurred in cirrhosis cannot be reversed and its function does not return to normal with treatment. It is a serious and potentially fatal condition, which can cause several complications.


Some of the complications of cirrhosis include:

  • Increased risk of infections. The infections often become serious as your body may have difficulty fighting them.
  • Malnutrition. In cirrhosis, the body fails to process nutrients properly leading to weakness and weight loss.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy. Accumulation of toxins in the blood (as the liver in cirrhosis isn't able to clear toxins from the blood) affects the brain function. Encephalopathy (impaired brain’s functioning) can cause confusion, drowsiness, altered consciousness and coma.
  • Bleeding. Tendency to bleed and bruise easily is increased in cirrhosis as the liver fails to make enough proteins needed to clot blood.
  • Bleeding varices. Veins at the lower end of the esophagus (food pipe) can swell and enlarge. They can bleed and cause blood in vomiting or blood in feces.
  • Edema (swelling of legs, ankles and feet) and ascites (accumulation of fluid in abdomen).  One of the functions of the liver is to remove excess fluid from the body through the kidneys. When the liver does not function properly, the fluid accumulates in the legs, ankle and feet (called edema) or in the abdomen (ascites).

Prognosis of Cirrhosis

Prognosis of cirrhosis

Cirrhosis decreases longevity (i.e. lifespan) of the affected person. According to research, the average survival rate of patients with cirrhosis is about 10 years. This, however, is influenced by many factors including the stage of the disease at the time of its diagnosis. Doctors use clinical stages of cirrhosis to assess its prognosis.

If the liver function in cirrhosis is not affected significantly, the 10-year survival rate is approximately 90% (i.e. 90% of people are alive after 10 years). The disease slowly progresses and the liver function is expected to deteriorate significantly within 10 years in about 50% of people with cirrhosis. After a person develops severe cirrhosis, the survival rate is affected severely and the median survival time is approximately 2 years.

Cirrhosis increases the risk of liver cancer. If you have liver cancer, regular follow-up and tests (ultrasound) are recommended to look for abnormalities in the liver.

Image Source: Getty

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