On a random forum, a member speculated that their cirrhosis was caused by wearing tight-fitting clothing such as a girdle or corset. This leads me to the following question:

Question: Can cirrhosis be caused by physical compression of the body?

The list of causes on Wikipedia does not include this. However, this may just be because the list is incomplete. Alternatively, it may be because physical compression is unlikely to contribute to cirrhosis.

A plausible mechanism that springs to my mind is that physical compression leads to the constriction of hepatic veins, arteries and/or their tributaries. But I suspect the rib cage would provide significant protection against this (see below).

Image is on 100+ websites; I'll assume it's considered public domain.


There is the term “corset liver”. It describes changes (“grooves”) on the liver’s surface following external compression and subsequent local atrophy, e.g. from wearing a corset for a long time. (see Dancygier: Clinical Hepatology)

A paper from the 1980s describes some abnormality in the histological findings of liver tissue of dogs after chronic abdominal compression but without providing any details in the abstract (I don’t have access to the full version). They measured an increased pressure in the Vena cava and the portal vein. (Ueyoshi, Shima: Studies on spinal braces. With special reference to the effects of increased abdominal pressure. PMID 4093227.)

A (chronic) Budd–Chiari syndrome can also cause liver necrosis and consequently cirrhosis and can be the result of venous compression from e.g. tumors.

I doubt that a comparable chronic compression is possible from wearing clothing. Corsets are still used in orthopedic conditions. I have never heard about long-term side effects on liver tissue. The explanation for cirrhosis seems unlikely to me.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for that. I think you're right... my suspicion is it's likely that any link with cirrhosis would have been discovered along with "corset liver" etc., and would be reasonably easy to find in the literature. $\endgroup$ – Douglas S. Stones Mar 16 '13 at 14:32

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