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When a biopsy comes back at stage 4 or higher, this is cirrhosis. Compensated cirrhosis is still a very manageable disease and there are stages of cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis is divided into two categories:

Compensated and decompensated.

Compensated is when your liver is still able to perform adequate function in the body. The liver tests will be abnormal and the biopsy will show scarring, even serious scarring, but life is not threatened at this point. There is liver disease, however, and this will remain whether someone is treated or not. It may progress whether someone is treated or not. Treatment should be considered if at all possible.

Decompensated cirrhosis is when the liver is not functioning adequately. It cannot perform many of the functions of the healthier, yet cirrhotic, liver. Labs are really out of whack. Fluid accumulates and needs to be drained or "tapped." Some people are conscious, some float in and out of consciousness, and some are totally conscious. At this point, it is too late for treatment with interferons. The liver could not take the stress.Most people are incapacitated by this point but, amazingly, some are not.

In the earliest stages of decompensation, it is time to look toward a transplant evaluation.

There is another condition called fulminant liver failure where the liver fails suddenly due to toxicity (usually poison or chemical exposure) and death is imminent without an immediate transplant to save life. This comes without warning, usually.

It is one of the dangers to those with hepatitis C who are exposed to hepatitis A (without a vaccination) or who are exposed to an overdose of over the counter medication (like tylenol) This is why it is so important to toxicities and watch labels on over the counter medications so that you do not overdose without realizing it.This can happen to anyone, though. This is life threatening.

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