Inflammation (something actively bothering the liver) can lead to fibrosis (abnormal fibrosis bands in the liver). As time goes by and if the inflammation continues, more and more fibrosis forms. As even more time goes by and the inflammation still continues, liver cells may begin to die and scar tissue begins to form. This is called cirrhosis which is when scar tissue replaces healthy tissue in the liver. There are many reasons for inflammation to occur such as alcohol abuse and viral hepatitis C being the top two reasons. Others not so common are non alcoholic fatty liver, primary biliary disease, autoimmune disease, medications, and too much iron in the body.
The doctor can do a biopsy of the liver to see damage done to the liver using a staging system of 0-4.
Here's how the stages go.
stage 0- no fibrosis present
stage 1- small amount of fibrosis present
stage 2- a little more fibrosis present
stage 3- even more fibrosis present with bridging fibrosis
stage 4- cirrhosis is present
Stage 4 is called end stage liver disease or ESLD. It does not give details as to how much scar tissue is present, but it shows there is at least some scar tissue there. But cirrhosis itself also has 3 stages which tells more about how much damage is present. Cirrhosis staging goes like this:
stage A- compensated cirrhosis (no symptoms at all)
stage B- beginning of decompensation (having symptoms of cirrhosis, but able to be controlled with
medications and/or treatments
stage C- decompensated cirrhosis- medications no longer working to control symptoms and total
failure is near
Hope this helps you some in understanding the stages of liver disease and cirrhosis.
I had cirrhosis and a liver transplant plus I'm a nurse.