Cirrhosis is characterized anatomically by widespread nodules in the liver combined with fibrosis. It can result from many causes, such as abuse of alcohol, chronic viral hepatitis, metabolic and biliary diseases. The co-existence of another chronic liver disease in a patient who abuses alcohol likely increases the risk of developing cirrhosis (eg. an alcoholic with chronic viral hepatitis C).
In the USA, alcohol abuse is the leading cause of liver cirrhosis. Anatomically, alcoholic cirrhosis is almost always micronodular (i.e. the regenerating liver nodules are small). Alcoholic cirrhosis can occur in patients who have never had evidence of alcoholic hepatitis. Cirrhosis can lead to end-stage liver disease.