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Cirrhosis and Fibrosis of the Liver in Cats

Put simply, cirrhosis of the liver is the generalized (diffuse) formation of scar tissue. It is associated with regenerative nodules, or masses, and deranged liver architecture. Fibrosis of the liver, on the other hand, involves the formation of scar tissue that replaces normal liver tissue. This condition can be inherited or acquired.

Symptoms and Types

  • Seizures
  • Blindness
  • Fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Poor body condition
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Black, tarry stools due to the presence of digested blood
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Yellowish discoloration of the gums and other tissues of the body
  • Cats:
    • Fluid build-up in the abdomen (ascites) uncommon
    • Drooling (known as ptyalism)
  • Possible bleeding tendencies (uncommon)
  • Skin lesions with superficial, ulcerative inflammation (superficial necrolytic dermatitis)

Causes

  • Long-term (chronic) liver injury
  • Long-term (chronic) inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Drug- or toxin-induced liver injury - copper-storage liver disease (copper-storage hepatopathy); medications to control seizures (known as anticonvulsants); azole medications to treat fungal infections; medication to treat intestinal parasites (oxibendazole); antibiotic (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); long-term (chronic) food-borne toxin (aflatoxins)
  • Infectious disease
  • Long-term (chronic) inflammation of the bile ducts and liver (known as “cholangiohepatitis”) in cats
  • Long-term (chronic) blockage of the extrahepatic or common bile duct (extrahepatic bile duct obstruction) - lasting more than six weeks

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. A blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis to rule out other causes of disease are also standard examination procedures.

A fine needle aspirate should be taken from the liver for a sample to be sent for cytologic analysis. A liver biopsy taken via laparoscope may also be necessary to form a definitive diagnosis.

 
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