health care  
All about liver encephalopathy (hepatic encephalopathy) causes of liver encephalopathy symptoms of liver encephalopathy diagnosis of liver encephalopathy treatments for liver encephalopathy Articles in liver diseases - cirrhosis of the liver hemochromatosis primary sclerosing cholangitis primary biliary cirrhosis alagille syndrome alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency Crigler-Najjar syndrome hepatitis fatty liver liver transplant Wilson's disease ascites cholestasis jaundice liver encephalopathy liver failure portal hypertension

What is liver encephalopathy (hepatic encephalopathy)?

Liver encephalopathy refers to the changes in the brain that occur in patients with advanced acute or chronic liver disease. If liver cells are damaged, certain substances that are normally cleansed from the blood by the healthy liver are not removed (ammonia mainly, and other toxins). A patient with chronic hepatic encephalopathy may develop progressive loss of

memory, disorientation, untidiness, and muscular tremors, leading to a form of chronic dementia.

Hepatic encephalopathy is characterized by personality changes, intellectual impairment, and a depressed level of consciousness. An important prerequisite for the syndrome is diversion of portal blood into the systemic circulation through portosystemic collateral vessels. Indeed, hepatic encephalopathy may develop in patients without cirrhosis who have undergone portocaval shunt surgery. The development of hepatic encephalopathy is explained, to some extent, by the effect of neurotoxic substances, which occurs in the setting of cirrhosis and portal hypertension.

Liver encephalopathy is a potentially life-threatening disease in which toxic substances accumulate in the blood. Also known as hepatic encephalopathy or hepatic coma, this condition can cause confusion, disorientation, abnormal neurological signs, loss of consciousness, and death. A normally functioning liver metabolizes and detoxifies substances formed in the body during the digestive process. Impaired liver function allows substances like ammonia (formed when the body digests protein), some fatty acids, phenol, and mercaptans to escape into the bloodstream. From there, they may penetrate the blood-brain barrier, affect the central nervous system (CNS), and lead to hepatic coma. Hepatic coma is most common in patients with chronic liver disease. It occurs in 50-70% of all those with cirrhosis.

More information on liver encephalopathy (hepatic encephalopathy)

What is liver encephalopathy? - Liver encephalopathy refers to the changes in the brain that occur in patients with advanced acute or chronic liver disease. Liver encephalopathy is a potentially life-threatening disease.
What causes liver encephalopathy? - Liver encephalopathy is caused by disorders affecting the liver, including cirrhosis or hepatitis and conditions where blood circulation bypasses the liver.
What're the symptoms of liver encephalopathy? - Symptoms of liver encephalopathy range from almost unnoticeable changes in personality, energy levels, and thinking patterns to deep coma.
How is liver encephalopathy diagnosed? - An electroencephalogram (EEG) may help in diagnosing early liver encephalopathy. Blood and urine analyses can provide important information about the cause of encephalopathy.
What're the treatments for liver encephalopathy? - The goals of treatment for liver encephalopathy include life support, elimination or treatment of precipitating factors, and removal or neutralization of ammonia and other toxins.
Digestive health Mainpage

Topics in digestive disorders

Signs and symptoms of digestive diseases
Anal and rectal disorders
Diverticular disease
Inflammatory bowel diseases
Peptic disorders (Stomach disease)
Emergencies of digestive system
Liver diseases
Irritable bowel syndrome
Diagnostic tests for digestive disorders

Featured articles

Crohn's disease
Ulcerative colitis
Peptic ulcer
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C
Liver transplant
Colon cancer
Stomach cancer
Colorectal cancer (bowel cancer)

All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005