Life Expectancy at End-Stage Cirrhosis

Updated April 17, 2017

End-stage liver disease (ESLD) is the precursor to total failure of the liver. At this stage, the patient is frequently readmitted to the hospital, and there is a strong likelihood of developing complications or illness in addition to the cirrhosis. The chance of recovery diminishes after complications set in. There is no effective direct treatment for end-stage cirrhosis.


Symptoms of ESLD include fatigue, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and swelling. If gastrointestinal bleeding and brain/nervous system impairment are also present, the disease progresses at a faster rate.


The liver fails when it is damaged approximately 80 per cent to 90 per cent. A medical professional will make a diagnosis of the extent of the disease through imaging techniques and lab tests.

Life Expectancy

Unfortunately, the life expectancy for someone diagnosed with ESLD is very low. At this stage, a liver transplant is necessary for survival. Some patients may not be suitable for this procedure or an organ will not become available in time, resulting in death.

Liver Transplants

A liver transplant is the only possible choice when the cirrhosis cannot be controlled by any medical treatment or procedure.


The success of liver transplants has resulted in its widespread use for end-stage liver disease. The American Liver Foundation says the five-year survival rate for transplant patients is about 75 per cent.

Organ Donation

The Columbia University Medical Center reports there are about 17,000 people awaiting a donated liver with an average waiting time of 321 days.

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About the Author

Pat Krueger works full-time in the corporate world, manages a home and family, and recently received a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Phoenix. Her freelance writing can be found on and