What is hepatic encephalopathy (HE)?

Updated: Apr 04, 2019
  • Author: David C Wolf, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF, FAASLD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

Hepatic encephalopathy is a syndrome observed in patients with cirrhosis. Hepatic encephalopathy is defined as a spectrum of neuropsychiatric abnormalities in patients with liver dysfunction, after exclusion of brain disease. [1, 2, 3] Hepatic encephalopathy is characterized by personality changes, intellectual impairment, and a depressed level of consciousness. [4] An important prerequisite for the syndrome is diversion of portal blood into the systemic circulation through portosystemic collateral vessels. [5] Hepatic encephalopathy is also described in patients without cirrhosis with either spontaneous or surgically created portosystemic shunts. 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.


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