Hepatic Encephalopathy: The Present and the Future

  • Steven Schenker
Part of the Experimental Biology and Medicine book series (EBAM, volume 22)


Hepatic encephalopathy may be defined as an alteration in mental state accompanying and due to liver disease. Hepatic dysfunction may be of the chronic type (i.e. cirrhosis) with spontaneous or surgically-induced portal-systemic shunting of blood (portal-systemic encephalopathy, PSE), or caused by acute liver failure (viral or toxic). Encephalopathy, in the former disorder (PSE), is usually insidious in onset, precipitated by some specific insult (i.e. gastrointestinal hemorrhage, azotemia, hypokalemic alkalosis) and is often rapidly reversible with appropriate therapy. In this regard, PSE is unique since treatment is relatively effective despite lack of complete understanding of the pathogenesis of this syndrome. Some 75 percent of such patients respond to rather simple and innocuous therapy within 72 hours and, in fact, lack of improvement is cause to reevaluate the diagnosis.


Hepatic Encephalopathy Acute Liver Failure Fulminant Hepatic Failure Blood Ammonia Hepatic Coma 
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Copyright information

© The Humana Press Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Schenker
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Science Center and Audie Murphy Veterans HospitalUniversity of TexasSan AntonioUSA

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