Hepatitis C induced cirrhosis is one of the most damaging effects of having Hepatitis C and can lead to many serious health problems including liver failure and liver cancer.
Here is will explain what cirrhosis is.determine the level of liver fibrosis.
Cirrhosis of the liver can be caused by many things, including other forms of Hepatitis and also drug and alcohol abuse.
Cirrhosis is the late stages of fibrosis. Fibrosis basically refers to scar tissue in the liver.
In the case of Hep C induced liver fibrosis the damage is caused by the Hepatitis C virus destroying liver cells, the dead cells become scar tissue.
The way that the Hepatitis C virus destroys liver cells i that the virus “breeds” inside the liver cell and using the generic material inside the cell to replicate itself. The virus’s presence inside your liver cell then causes your liver cell to “explode” sending new virus particles into your blood stream where they hook onto other liver cells, invade them and repeat the process. If you have Hep C this process is happening all day every day.
Sometimes people contact me and tell me that they have Hepatitis C but that their doctor told them that the virus was “dormant” but in reality there is no such thing as “dormant” or “inactive” Hepatitis C, if you have Hepatitis C it is doing some level of damage to your liver every day.
For some people this level of liver damage is low and the liver is able to heal and there is not much scar tissue formed. However, over time the scar tissue will increase. The scar tissue in the liver is like the scar tissue from a wound to a muscle, it is harder, less flexible, than the surrounding tissue. As the amount of scar tissue in the liver increases then liver becomes harder and less flexible. This is fibrosis. Fibrosis is rated from F0 to F4. At the bottom end F0 means no fibrosis (or so little as not to worry about it) and at the top end F4 means a person has cirrhosis.
If you have cirrhosis it means that your liver is pretty much a big mass of scar tissue. With cirrhosis comes increased chance of liver cancer or liver failure and death. (I was border line F3/F4 when I started treatment).
Until relatively recently the way that fibrosis level was determined was by a liver biopsy. This involved inserting a hollow needle into the liver and removing a “core” sample of the liver tissue. A biopsy is an invasive surgical procedure, that is often painful and can sometimes lead to serious complications.
Because any form of surgery is both costly and risky the Fibroscan was invented as a means of determining liver fibrosis without the need for surgery.
Knowing the fibrosis level, and whether a person has cirrhosis, or not, is helpful for determining how Hepatitis C should be treated. Simply speaking the higher the fibrosis level the longer the treatment time. For more detailed information about Hepatitis C Cirrhosis and Fibrosis please click here.