Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

Hepatic (Liver) Failure and Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis of the liver (liver disease) can be caused in many ways, the most common of which are hepatitis and alcohol abuse. Cirrhosis is a consequence of liver failure, and is characterized by replacement of normal liver tissue with fibrotic scar tissue. There are many signs and symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver. These can include itching, changes in the color of the nails, vessels on the skin that look like a spider, enhanced veins surrounding the belly button, clubbing of the nail (where the angle between the nail and the cuticle decreases), male breast tissue growth, enlarged spleen, changes in liver size, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, yellowing of the skin, and sweet smelling breath. The patient can also suffer from loss of appetite and sex drive, fatigue, weight loss, itching, and bleeding in the intestines or esophagus. 

The liver is a very complex organ that has many functions in the body. One of the main functions of the liver is to create “clotting factors” which help blood to clot in order to stop bleeding. Decreased ability to form blood clots can be devastating in trauma patients who may be bleeding due to their injuries or need surgery to treat their injuries. The liver has many other complex functions which, if not working properly, will lead to decreased physiologic reserve and more difficulty recovering from a traumatic injury.