Optimal treatment of hepatic encephalopathy

A Waghray, N Waghray, S Kanna, K Mullen
Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2014, 60 (1): 55-70
Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a neuropsychiatric complication of acute or chronic liver disease with symptoms encompassing a continuum from mild confusion to coma. Both covert and overt HE have a significant impact on quality of life and healthcare related costs. The pathophysiology of HE is multifactorial and there is general consensus that ammonia and inflammation act synergistically to cause astrocyte swelling and cerebral edema. Current management strategies include the identification of precipitating factors and the initiation of pharmacologic therapies aimed at modulating intestinal flora and reducing levels of ammonia and other gut-derived toxins. Lactulose and rifaximin are two commonly used treatments for the management of HE. This article will review the optimal management of hepatic encephalopathy.

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