By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
The term fibrosis describes the development of excess fibrous connective tissue as a reparative response to injury or damage.
This process may be pathological, reactive or benign. When fibrosis occurs in response to injury, the term “scarring” is used.
Fibrosis may refer to both the connective tissue deposition that occurs as part of normal healing as well as the excess tissue deposition that occurs as a pathological process.
Some examples of fibrosis occurring in response to inflammation or damage are described below:
Lung fibrosis or pulmonary fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis may occur as a result of long standing infections such as tuberculosis or pneumonia. Symptoms include chronic cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing and fatigue.
Cirrhosis refers to the scar tissue and nodules that replace liver tissue and disrupt liver function. The condition is usually caused by alcoholism, fatty liver disease, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
Fibrosis of the heart
Areas of the heart that have become damaged due to myocardial infarction may undergo fibrosis.
This form of fibrosis is characterized by calcified fibrosis of the lymph nodes, which can block respiratory channels and blood vessels.
This refers to fibrosis of the soft tissue in the retroperitoneum, which contains the aorta, kidneys and numerous other structures.
Myelofibrosis is scarring in the bone marrow that prevents the normal production of blood cells in the bone marrow.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Sep 8, 2014