Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cirrhosis (Gk. kirrhos, yellow), a term primarily applied to a disease of the liver, in which that organ becomes shrunken, and its surface irregular, while a section of it is found to present a yellowish orange colour. Cirrhosis appears to commence as an inflammatory process involving the connective-tissue sheath of the smaller branches of the portal vein; fibrous tissue is developed between the liver lobules, and at first the whole organ is increased in size; but the new-formed connective tissue soon undergoes cicatricial contraction, the liver shrinks, and its functions are gravely embarrassed. In the process of contraction bosses or lumps are developed on the hitherto smooth liver surface, hence the term hobnail liver which has been applied to the organ when thus affected. Cirrhosis is generally caused by the abuse of alcohol, and of all forms of such abuse the long-continued drinking of gin is particularly associated with the development of the cirrhotic condition. Indeed "gindrinkers' liver" is a well recognised popular designation for cirrhosis. The early symptoms of cirrhosis are somewhat variable, the progress of the disease being very insidious. Most habitual drinkers suffer from gastric derangement, apart from cirrhosis; again, the emaciation and failing strength of commencing cirrhotic mischief are symptoms common to it and to many other forms of disease. The appearance of abdominal dropsy or ascites (q.v.), or of the vomiting of blood, or of the passage of blood per rectum, are characteristic symptoms of cirrhosis, but unfortunately such symptoms point to the fact that the morbid process is already considerably advanced. Jaundice is rarely very marked, usually present in the final stages. The disease, when once fairly established, is almost always fatal within one or two years. Hypertrophic cirrhosis, as it is called to distinguish it from the gin-drinkers' or atrophic form, is a much rarer variety of disease of the liver. The term cirrhosis is also employed to designate certain affections of other organs (as for example the lungs and kidneys) in which a new development of fibrous tissue occurs, with subsequent contraction and induration. In thus using the word cirrhosis its etymology is completely ignored.