What is the role of a protein-restricted diet in the treatment of 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

In the author's experience, it is an infrequent patient who is intolerant of a diet high in protein. Most patients with mild chronic hepatic encephalopathy tolerate more than 60-80 g of protein per day. Furthermore, one study administered a protein-rich diet (>1.2 g/kg/d) to patients with advanced disease awaiting liver transplantation, without inducing a flare of encephalopathy symptoms. [39] Another study randomized patients with severe episodic encephalopathy to either a low-protein diet or a high-protein diet, administered via nasogastric tube. [40] All patients received the same regimen of neomycin per nasogastric tube. Mental function improved at the same rate in both treatment groups. Importantly, patients receiving the low-protein diet had evidence of increased protein breakdown during the duration of the study.


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