Laënnec’s cirrhosis is a progressive liver disease that poses significant health risks. Doctors also refer to it as portal or micronodular cirrhosis.

One common cause is chronic, excessive alcohol consumption.

In Laënnec’s cirrhosis, fibrous scar tissue gradually replaces healthy liver tissue. As the liver’s functionality diminishes, people can experience symptoms such as fatigue, jaundice, and fluid retention.

Read on to learn more about what Laënnec’s cirrhosis is, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

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Laënnec’s cirrhosis is a long-term, progressive liver disease. It is primarily caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

The condition was named after René Laënnec, a French doctor in the 1700s who first coined the term “cirrhosis.”

In individuals with Laënnec’s cirrhosis, fibrous scar tissue gradually replaces the healthy liver tissue in a process known as fibrosis. This scarring disrupts the liver’s structure and function, impairing its ability to perform essential tasks.

The liver is an essential organ responsible for functions such as detoxification, protein synthesis, and the production of digestive fluids. Therefore, a damaged liver can have serious health implications.

A person with cirrhosis may have no symptoms in the early stages. However, as the condition progresses, individuals may experience:

Doctors divide cirrhosis into three types. These include the following:

  • Micronodular cirrhosis: The liver has uniform nodules or lumps that measure less than 3 millimeters (mm) in diameter. It can happen due to alcohol misuse and various underlying health conditions, such as chronic biliary obstruction.
  • Macronodular cirrhosis: The liver has irregular nodules measuring more than 3 mm in diameter. It may happen due to hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, or primary biliary cholangitis.
  • Mixed cirrhosis: The liver presents features that both micronodular and macronodular cirrhosis are present. Typically, micronodular cirrhosis progresses into macronodular cirrhosis over time.

Although different types of cirrhosis can make the liver look different, doctors treat them all the same way.

Chronic and excessive alcohol use is the primary cause of Laënnec’s cirrhosis. This may involve binge drinking, meaning females consuming more than 4 drinks or males consuming more than 5 drinks on one occasion, or heavy drinking, defined as 8 or more drinks weekly for females or 15 or more drinks per week for males.

Malnutrition is also a contributing factor.

In cases where a person has no symptoms, doctors may diagnose Laënnec’s cirrhosis when testing for other conditions.

Or if a person has symptoms, doctors may include the following in their diagnostic work-up:

  • a physical examination to check for swelling in the upper abdomen
  • questions about relevant personal and family medical history
  • questions about alcohol consumption
  • blood tests to check liver function
  • imaging tests such as an ultrasound or MRI scan to look for scarring or nodules
  • a liver tissue biopsy, or tissue sample, that will be tested in a lab

Besides a liver transplant, there is currently no cure for cirrhosis. However, making health-promoting lifestyle changes may slow disease progression and improve quality of life.

Doctors may recommend:

  • avoiding alcohol
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • eating a balanced diet
  • getting vaccinated against HBV and HCV
  • engaging in regular physical activity

Learn more about treating and managing cirrhosis.

The outlook for individuals with Laënnec’s cirrhosis relies heavily on their liver health and the severity of the condition at the time of diagnosis. Other factors such as age, lifestyle choices, and overall health also contribute to their outlook.

If a person has no symptoms, the outlook is relatively positive. They have a 47% chance of surviving for at least another 10 years compared with people without cirrhosis.

This figure drops to 16% after symptoms appear.

If someone is experiencing any cirrhosis symptoms or has concerns about their liver health, they should seek medical attention. Moreover, if a person has a family history of liver disease, they should talk with their doctor about regular screening options.

Many medical conditions can cause similar symptoms to cirrhosis. Therefore, working with a doctor can help rule out potential causes and identify the underlying issue.

Laënnec’s cirrhosis is a form of cirrhosis that typically develops due to prolonged and excessive alcohol consumption. A person with cirrhosis may experience fatigue, weight loss, jaundice, and swelling of the abdomen.

Although there is no cure, specific lifestyle changes can slow disease progression.