Hepatic Fibrosis

Chronic fibrotic liver disease is a general name for the terminal stage of chronic inflammatory conditions that can be developed in the liver and often lead to death through progressive liver failure. Hepatic fibrosis is an overly active wound healing in which excessive connective tissue builds up in the liver and normal structural elements of tissues are replaced with large amounts of scar tissue. The disease has been described in young German Shepherd dogs with ascites, weight loss and hepatic encephalopathy.

Hepatic fibrosis can be caused by chronic injury, especially if there is an inflammation; viruses, and increased hepatic copper concentration. Fibrosis itself causes no symptoms but can lead to portal hypertension when the scarring distorts blood flow through the liver. Hepatic fibrosis can develop into cirrhosis, a failure to properly replace destroyed liver cells.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Needle liver biopsy is the primary tool for the diagnosis and assessment of fibrosis. Treatment involves correcting the underlying condition when possible. Response to treatment with anti-fibrotic therapy with glucocorticosteroids or colchicine is variable. Research into the reversal of hepatic fibrosis now concentrates on two areas: (1) eradication of the primary cause; (2) a direct attack on the pathways which are used for producing liver scars. The prognosis depends on the underlying condition. Some dogs may die shortly after diagnosis; others may survive two-and-a-half years, and yet others may survive up to four years after the initial diagnosis.

fibrosis - formation of fibroud tissue; fibroid degeneration
hepatic - originating from or pertaining to the liver
glucocorticosteroids - any substance that increases the concentration of liver glycogen and blood sugar (cortisol, cortisone and corticosterone; these substances are used as anti-inflammatory agents
colchicine - an antimitotic drug; in humans it is used to treat gout


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