Difference Between Fibrosis and Cirrhosis

Main Difference – Fibrosis vs Cirrhosis

Fibrosis and cirrhosis are two forms of histological changes related to various types of medical conditions including those of liver and lungs. It is highly advisable to seek early medical advice as soon the conditions are suspected since untreated conditions can even lead to death. The main difference between fibrosis and cirrhosis is that Cirrhosis is a later stage of fibrosis which is often accompanied by liver failure and pulmonary hypertension.

In this article, we are going to discuss

1. What is Fibrosis – Clinical Features, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Lung and Liver Fibrosis

2. What is Cirrhosis – Clinical Features, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

3. What is the difference between  Fibrosis and Cirrhosis?Difference Between Fibrosis and Cirrhosis - Fibrosis vs Cirrhosis Comparison Summary

What is Fibrosis

Lung Fibrosis

Fibrosis in lungs is a condition where the deeper tissues in the lungs get scarred over time and thicken the tissue around and between the alveoli sacs. This usually results in a difficulty of passing oxygen into the bloodstream, leading to shortness of breath.

Silica dust, grain dust, Asbestos particles, various lung diseases like Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Rheumatoid arthritis and Scleroderma are some of the major etiological factors which are known to cause lung inflammation, causing fibrosis.

Patients with lung fibrosis will usually experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, a persisting dry cough which doesn’t improve over time, fatigue, malaise, night sweats and unexplained weight loss and muscle aches.

Once Fibrosis is diagnosed with imaging studies, lung function tests and biopsy, the interventions will be carried out in order to improve the symptoms since it is too late to achieve a permanent cure. Intervention includes oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Liver Fibrosis

Liver Fibrosis is often seen in chronic liver diseases; this is the first stage of liver scarring which occurs due to the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins such as collagen in the liver. This rapid distribution of collagen will decrease the perfusion of the liver cells, making it hard and thick resulting.

Advanced liver fibrosis can eventually progress to liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and portal hypertension which will probably need a liver transplantation.

Chronic viral hepatitis B and C are the commonest causes of liver fibrosis.

Liver biopsy is the main diagnostic method of liver fibrosis whereas chemical markers such as HA (hyaluronic acid), LN (Laminin), C IV (collagen IV), PCIII (procollagen type III) are also known to play an important role in confirming the diagnosis.

Liver transplantation, treatment for alcohol dependence, pharmacological interventions to control hepatitis and complications of cirrhosis, preventions against infections like influenza, pneumonia, and hepatitis are the cornerstones for the management of liver Fibrosis and cirrhosis both in general.

Difference Between Fibrosis and Cirrhosis

What is Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is the end stage of fibrosis in the liver which is caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions like hepatitis and chronic alcoholism.

As cirrhosis progresses, there will be an increased production of scar tissue, making it difficult for the liver to function, ultimately ending up in liver failure.

Chronic alcoholism, Chronic viral hepatitis-hepatitis B and C, Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Iron overload or hemochromatosis, Cystic fibrosis, Wilson’s disease,  Primary biliary cirrhosis, Primary Sclerosing cholangitis, infections like Schistosomiasis and medications such as methotrexate are known to cause Cirrhosis in individuals depending on their overall fitness.

Patients with Cirrhosis will not show any signs and symptoms until the liver damage is extensive. Later stages will, however, indicate fatigue, easy bruising, itchy skin, Jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes), abdominal pain due to ascites, loss of weight and appetite, nausea, swollen legs and probably ending up with confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech associated with Hepatic encephalopathy.Key Difference -  Fibrosis vs  Cirrhosis

Difference Between Fibrosis and Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a later stage of fibrosis which is often accompanied by liver failure and pulmonary hypertension. This primary condition generally occurs following a primary insult to the liver resulting in inflammation.

Due to the inflammation, the extracellular matrix will get triggered to produce more and more collagen, resulting in a thickened structure of the organ referred to as fibrosis. When this happens over a long period of time, the basic structure of the organ will get deformed resulting in what is called Cirrhosis.

The term fibrosis can be used both in the lung and liver pathologies whereas Cirrhosis is only used  to describe liver diseases.

Image Courtesy:

“Liver Cirrhosis” By BruceBlaus – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

“Cystic fibrosis01″By National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) – (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia 

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music