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September 1966

Pathogenesis of Hepatic Coma

Author Affiliations


From the Laboratory for Cancer Research and Gastroenterology Section, Department of Medicine, Minneapolis Veterans Hospital, University of Minneapolis.

Arch Intern Med. 1966;118(3):211-223. doi:10.1001/archinte.1966.00290150025007

Definition and Classification  SINCE the precise etiology of hepatic coma is unknown, any discussion of pathogenesis requires a definition and brief description of the clinical entity, a listing of the predisposing and precipitating factors, and a careful review of the biochemical and physiological alterations taking place.1Hepatic coma is a disorder of consciousness occurring in patients with severe liver disease; a neuropsychiatric disturbance with no striking anatomic basis. The manifestations may be extreme, yet are entirely reversible, and the brain does not show pathologic changes that will account for the symptoms.2Episodes of hepatic coma may be classified as spontaneous or induced, or alternatively as endogenous or exogenous in origin. The clinical manifestations of both types are similar, a fact that often makes their differentiation difficult. The spontaneous cases have no evident precipitating factor, being simply the final consequence of practically complete liver cell destruction. The induced cases