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Latest Concepts in Inpatient Hepatic Encephalopathy Management

  • Thoetchai (Bee) Peeraphatdit
  • Patrick S. Kamath
  • Michael D. Leise
Chapter

Abstract

Hepatic encephalopathy (HE), a common complication in patients with decompensated cirrhosis, significantly impacts quality of life and also survival. Current nomenclature recognizes type A HE (acute liver failure), type B (portosystemic shunts absent liver disease), and type C (liver disease). Recently, it has been observed that HE is an additional risk factor for death in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). Thus, it has been proposed that HE in the setting of ACLF be considered a separate entity and that there may be important subtypes, namely isolated HE (without extrahepatic organ failure) and HE-associated ACLF (with extrahepatic organ failure), that carry different prognoses. The mechanism of the latter is not well known but thought to be from the combination of hyperammonemia and systemic inflammation. The confirmation of HE diagnosis requires exclusion of other possible causes. Precipitating factors of HE must be treated if they are identified. Early detection of extrahepatic organ failure is vital for risk stratification purposes and to determine the need for organ support. Specific HE treatment should be initiated with a nonabsorbable disaccharide (i.e., lactulose) in most cases. Rifaximin can be added in patients not responding to lactulose. Other treatments including zinc, l-ornithine l-aspartate, branched-chain amino acids, and molecular adsorbent recirculating system (MARS) can be considered in refractory HE. If technically feasible, large portosystemic shunts may be embolized. Ultimately, liver transplant is the most definitive treatment option for HE, especially in the setting of ACLF. However, current organ allocation system does not take HE into account and active infection in ACLF can be a contraindication for liver transplant.

Keywords

Hepatic encephalopathy Acute-on-chronic liver failure Cirrhosis Inpatient Hospitalized 

Abbreviations

ACLF

Acute-on-chronic liver failure

BCAA

Branched-chain amino acids

CLIF-C ACLF

Chronic Liver Failure Consortium ACLF Score

DAMPs

Damage-associated molecular patterns

ESPEN

European Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

FDA

Food and Drug Administration

HE

Hepatic encephalopathy

IL

Interleukin

LOLA

l-ornithine l-aspartate

LT

Liver transplant

MARS

Molecular adsorbent recirculating system

MELD

Model for end-stage liver disease

PAMPs

Pathogen-associated molecular patterns

RCT

Randomized controlled trial

TIPS

Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thoetchai (Bee) Peeraphatdit
    • 1
  • Patrick S. Kamath
    • 1
  • Michael D. Leise
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Gastroenterology and HepatologyMayo Clinic College of MedicineRochesterUSA

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