The 3 major and potentially fatal complications of cirrhosis of the liver result from portal hypertension and include variceal bleeding, ascites, and encephalopathy. The cause of other complications, eg, thyroid dysfunction and hepatopulmonary syndrome, is uncertain. Several recent advances have occurred in the treatment of varices. However, treatment of ascites is still primarily confined to achieving a negative sodium balance, and therapy for encephalopathy centers on the use of lactulose. Although effective therapy may be available for most complications of cirrhosis, a major complication indicates a poor longterm prognosis. Liver transplantation the only effective long-term treatment of complications due to cirrhosis.
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