Following is a list of terms used in the road map and a few others you may hear. More extensive descriptions of the conditions described can be found on the internet.
- Ascites is the result of retaining an abnormal amount of fluid in the abdomen. This occurs in about 50% of those with cirrhosis. A paracentesis is the procedure used to drain excess fluids from the abdomen.
- Cirrhosis occurs when scar tissue impairs the liver’s ability to function. Compensated Cirrhosis means that, despite being cirrhotic, the liver is functioning relatively well and a patient may not have any symptoms.
- Decompensated Cirrhosis occurs when the liver is unable to effectively carry out its functions and symptoms begin to present themselves.
- Edema is swelling caused by excess fluids in the body’s tissues.
- Fatty Liver occurs when more than 5 to 10% of the liver is infiltrated with fat.
- Hepatic Encephalopathy (or HE) occurs when the liver loses, in whole or in part, the ability to prevent toxins from reaching the bloodstream. This can result in ammonia making its way in the blood system and your brain. HE causes brain fog and in its most extreme cases can lead to a coma and even death. It is estimated that 30- 40% of those with decompensated cirrhosis will get HE.
- Hepatocellular Carcinoma (or HCC) is a cancer that originates in the liver. If it spreads beyond the liver the patient will no longer be considered for a transplant. It is estimated that less than 10% of those with decompensate cirrhosis will get HCC.
- Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin due to the buildup of bilirubin, a waste material, in the blood.
- MELD stands for Model for End-Stage Liver Disease and is used to measure the severity and extent of liver disease.
- MELD is calculated based on the results of bloodwork and ranges from 6 (healthy) to 40 (no liver functionality).
- NAFLD is the acronym for NonAlcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and is Fatty Liver not caused by Alcohol.
- NASH is the acronym for NonAlcoholic Steatohepatitis and occurs when the liver swells and there is damage to liver cells.
- Reversal means that fatty liver disease can be reversed through lifestyle changes.
- Simple Fatty Liver is a benign condition that does little damage to the liver.
- Splenomegaly is an enlarged spleen resulting from the increase of blood pressure in the spleen caused by cirrhosis.
- Varices are swollen veins in the abdomen or the esophagus. The veins are fragile and susceptible to rupture.