In hepatic fibrosis, excessive connective tissue accumulates in the liver; this tissue represents scarring in response to chronic, repeated liver cell injury. Commonly, fibrosis progresses, disrupting hepatic architecture and eventually function, as regenerating hepatocytes attempt to replace and repair damaged tissue. When such disruption is widespread, cirrhosis is diagnosed. To develop, cirrhosis usually requires > 6 mo of liver disease but can occur more rapidly (eg, during infancy with biliary atresia, after liver transplantation for severe liver disease secondary to chronic hepatitis B or C).
Last full review/revision August 2007 by Eldon A. Shaffer, MD