Laënnec’s cirrhosis, also called portal cirrhosis or Laënnec cirrhosis, is a name given to cirrhosis with features typical of cirrhosis caused by chronic, heavy alcohol consumption.

Cirrhosis is scarring in your liver caused by chronic damage. In developed countries like the United States, the most common causes are:

Laënnec’s cirrhosis was named after René Laënnec, a French doctor born in the 1700s who first used the term “cirrhosis.” It has some differences from other types of the condition.

Read on to learn more about Laënnec’s cirrhosis, including how it differs from other types of cirrhosis, potential complications, and treatments.

Types of cirrhosis

Doctors divide cirrhosis into three forms depending on the appearance of cells under a microscope:

Micronodular (Laënnec’s cirrhosis)Macronodular cirrhosisMixed cirrhosis
FeaturesUniform nodules (abnormal masses) less than 3 milliliters acrossIrregular nodules greater than 3 milliliters acrossFeatures of both micronodular and macronodular cirrhosis
Potential causes• heavy alcohol consumption
• buildup of iron in the body (hemochromatosis)
• obstruction of hepatic veins
• chronic bile obstruction
• jejunoileal bypass
• Indian childhood cirrhosis
hepatitis B and hepatitis C
alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
primary biliary cholangitis
usually, micronodular cirrhosis progresses to macronodular cirrhosis over time

The classification of cirrhosis into one of these subtypes is less important for treating the disease than understanding the underlying cause of your cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis usually develops slowly over months or years and symptoms usually don’t start until the liver is already significantly damaged. Early symptoms may include:

Laënnec’s cirrhosis is caused by alcoholic-related liver disease, a complication of heavy drinking for many years.

One of the major complications of cirrhosis is portal hypertension. Portal hypertension is elevated blood pressure in the vein that leads to your liver. It can lead to many other complications, such as increasing your risk of stomach and esophageal varices (enlarged veins) that can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.

Other complications can include:

Your doctor will start the diagnostic process by reviewing your personal and family medical history and performing a physical exam.

They may order a variety of tests to confirm the diagnosis, including:

Cirrhosis can usually only be cured with a liver transplant. A liver transplant involves exchanging your liver with part or all of a donor liver.

Other treatments can help slow the progression of liver damage and improve your quality of life.

Treating cirrhosis can involve:

  • avoiding alcohol consumption if you drink alcoholic beverages
  • quitting smoking if you smoke (this can be difficult, but a doctor can help create a cessation plan that works for you)
  • losing weight if you’re overweight or have obesity
  • speaking with your doctor about your medications
  • speaking with your doctor about vaccinations that may benefit you, such as the annual flu shot
  • practicing positive hygiene habits to help reduce your risk of developing infections
  • exercising regularly

Your treatment plan for cirrhosis will be based on your individual situation, including your medical needs.

Many people with cirrhosis can live for years without needing a transplant. Adopting lifestyle changes to support liver health can help you maximize your survival. It’s estimated that slightly under half of people with cirrhosis live at least 10 years following their diagnosis.

Doctors divide cirrhosis into compensated and decompensated cirrhosis, depending on liver function.

Compensated cirrhosis is when your liver is still able to perform all its critical functions, and decompensated cirrhosis is when it’s no longer able to meet these demands. The 10-year survival rate drops to 16% in people with decompensated cirrhosis.

The 1-year and 5-year survival rates after a liver transplant are 85% and 72%, respectively.

Learn more about how cirrhosis affects life expectancy.

What is a survival rate?

Health professionals often use survival rate as a measure of a disease’s outlook. It refers to the percentage of people with the disease who are still alive a set number of years after their diagnosis.

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Living with cirrhosis can present challenges. For example, the condition can make you feel very tired, which may make staying active difficult. Learning about and adopting habits that reduce stress on your liver like avoiding alcohol, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking can help improve your quality of life.

The American Liver Foundation offers a helpline at 1-800-465-4837 that you can call to get more information about local resources in your area.

It’s important to maintain regular contact with your doctor if you’ve been previously diagnosed with cirrhosis or to see a doctor as soon as possible if you think you may have liver disease.

If you don’t have a Laënnec’s cirrhosis diagnosis

It’s critical to get medical attention as soon as possible if you think you might have cirrhosis, especially if you notice symptoms like:

  • yellowing of your skin
  • unexplained fatigue
  • feeling generally unwell for no clear reason

If you’ve been diagnosed with Laënnec’s cirrhosis

After you’re diagnosed with cirrhosis, your doctor will likely want to see you every 3 to 6 months to monitor for complications. It’s also important to see your doctor whenever you notice any sudden change in your symptoms.

Laënnec’s cirrhosis is a term used to describe cirrhosis that has features typical of the condition related to heavy and chronic alcohol consumption.

Cirrhosis usually cannot be cured without a liver transplant, but making certain lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms.

Taking care of your liver health can help prolong living without needing a liver transplant.