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Southern DHB Gastroenterology Services

Public Service, Gastroenterology & Hepatology (Liver)


Cirrhosis is the term used to describe a diseased liver that has been badly scarred, usually due to many years of injury. Many people who have developed cirrhosis have no symptoms or have only fatigue, which is very common. However, as the cirrhosis progresses, symptoms often develop as the liver is no longer able to perform its normal functions. Symptoms include swollen legs and an enlarged abdomen, easy bruising and bleeding, frequent bacterial infections, malnutrition, especially muscle wasting in the temples and upper arms and jaundice (a yellow tinge to the skin and eyes). 

Cirrhosis is diagnosed using a number of tests including: blood tests, ultrasound scans and liver elastography.

Treatment options depend on the severity of damage to the liver and include dietary changes and avoidance of substances such as alcohol that can further damage the liver. Medication may be given to prevent complications and treat symptoms of liver failure.

This page was last updated at 10:01AM on March 15, 2021.