Degeneration of functioning liver cells and their replacement with fibrous connective tissue, leading to scarring. The most common cause is alcohol abuse with malnutrition. Others include bile duct obstruction, viral infection, toxins, iron or copper accumulation in liver cells, and syphilis. Jaundice, edema, and great abdominal swelling are common in all. Death usually results from internal bleeding or hepatic coma due to blood chemical imbalance.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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