Micronodular Cirrhosis

What is Micronodular Cirrhosis?

Essentially, micronodular cirrhosis is a type of cirrhosis whereby there are morphological changes that cause an enlarged liver. In this case, the regenerative nodules are quite small, usually less than 3 mm in size. This type of cirrhosis can develop for many years, and the liver usually has a yellowish hue, meaning that there's fatty change, which in most cases is usually caused by alcoholism.

Micronodular cirrhosis is dissimilar to macronodular cirrhosis, which is usually characterized by regenerative nodules that are bigger than 3 mm in size. When micronodular cirrhosis is left untreated, it eventually advances to macronodular cirrhosis.

Causes of Micronodular Cirrhosis

There are several causes that lead to this type of cirrhosis, and some of them are natural. One of the main causes is alcoholic cirrhosis, which affects 10 to 20 percent of people who drink alcohol heavily for up to a decade or more. In such cases, the damage to the liver is usually hard to reverse. For those people with mild or moderate cases, the doctor usually recommends quitting alcohol to slow its progression.

Hereditary Hemochromatosis is an acquired disease that causes an elevated iron level in the body, and it's also a cause of micronodular cirrhosis. This inherited disease is also known as bronze diabetes, and people with a family history of skin pigmentation, diabetes, cirrhosis or cardiomyopathy are likely to suffer from it.

Another cause for micronodular cirrhosis is primary biliary cirrhosis, and this condition is prevalent in women. People with this condition usually experience several symptoms such as skin pigmentation, pruritis, enlarged liver, and unexplained fatigue.

Rare causes of this cirrhosis include alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Wilson disease, certain drugs, cancer, severe cardiac disease, tyrosinosis in children, and extensive small bowel resection.

Symptoms of Micronodular Cirrhosis

In many cases, the specific symptoms a patient is likely to experience depends on the underlying cause of the liver cirrhosis. You may have different liver pathologies such as nausea, vomiting, bruising, jaundice, enlarged liver, abdominal pain, skin pigmentation, itchy skin, prominent veins, and fatty stools.

Weight loss, weakness, and osteoporosis are also common symptoms. As the condition advances, the patient is likely to experience hepatic failure, portal hypertension, and debilitation. You can also suffer from the hepato-pulmonary syndrome, which occurs due to imbalances of pulmonary blood flow.

Diagnosis of Micronodular Cirrhosis

The first step in cirrhosis diagnosis is usually to check the patient's medical history and discuss their history of alcohol use. This is followed by a liver biopsy, which is the most definitive test for confirming liver cirrhosis. A tissue sample is observed under the microscope to determine the presence and cause of micronodular cirrhosis.

Also, you will get blood tests to help understand your case better and determine the right treatment approach that suits your particular situation. The blood test results may show high blood sugar levels, high blood ammonia level, anemia, leukocytosis, low blood magnesium levels, low blood potassium levels, and low blood sodium levels.

During a diagnosis, your doctor will also try to rule out other conditions that share the same symptoms, or those that affect the liver.

Treatment of Micronodular Cirrhosis

As you already know, the damage to the liver caused by cirrhosis is usually irreversible. The focus of treatment is usually to slow the advancement of the condition, especially if you have a mild or moderate case.

If the patient is still using alcohol, the first step is to help them quit drinking. At this point, quitting is recommended with the doctor's help as there are several complications that such people tend to experience when stopping alcohol use.

You may also be given medications such as calcium channel blockers, antioxidant supplements, corticosteroids, and S-adenosyl-L-methionine. The treatment plan also involves nutritional counseling as alcohol users tend to experience malnutrition. You'll also get extra protein to reduce the risk of developing brain disease. If your condition is severe, a liver transplant is usually recommended.

Your recovery from micronodular cirrhosis depends on whether you develop complications due to the disease. When you're diagnosed with this condition, it's important to start treatment immediately. A cirrhotic liver can lead to various complications such as mental confusion, ascites, and jaundice.

When complications occur, a liver transplant is, in most cases, the only approach for effective treatment.

Last Reviewed:
July 02, 2017
Last Updated:
October 16, 2017
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