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Hepatic encephalopathy

Other Names for this Disease
  • Encephalopathy, hepatic
  • Hepatoencephalopathy
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Hepatic encephalopathy is a syndrome observed in some patients with cirrhosis. It is defined as a spectrum of neuropsychiatric abnormalities in patients with liver dysfunction, when other known brain disease has been excluded.[1] Signs and symptoms may be debilitating, and they can begin mildly and gradually, or occur suddenly and severely.[2] They may include personality or mood changes, intellectual impairment, abnormal movements, a depressed level of consciousness, and other symptoms.[1][2] There are several theories regarding the exact cause, but development of the condition is probably at least partially due to the effect of substances that are toxic to nerve tissue (neurotoxic), which are typically present with liver damage and/or liver disease. Treatment depends upon the severity of mental status changes and upon the certainty of the diagnosis.[1]
Last updated: 1/24/2011


  1. David C Wolf. Encephalopathy, Hepatic. eMedicine. August 18, 2010; Accessed 1/24/2011.
  2. George F. Longstreth. Hepatic encephalopathy. MedlinePlus. October 13, 2009; Accessed 1/24/2011.
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Basic Information

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs posts information discussed during a talk on hepatic encephalopathy given at the 2004 Advanced Liver Disease Training Program held in Manhattan, New York, from April 12 to 14, and sponsored by the VA Hepatitis C Resource Center Program and Hepatitis C Program Office. To view the presentation, click on the link.
  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library provides information on this condition. Click on the link to view the information.
  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conducts research focused on improving the treatment and prevention of alcoholism and alcohol-related problems to reduce the enormous health, social, and economic consequences of this disease. Click on the link to view information on this topic. 

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. Click on the link to view this information. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Hepatic encephalopathy. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.