Minimal Hepatic Encephalopathy: Longitudinal Effects of Liver Transplantation | Gastrointestinal Surgery | JAMA Neurology | JAMA Network
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Original Contribution
February 2004

Minimal Hepatic Encephalopathy: Longitudinal Effects of Liver Transplantation

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychology, University of Bologna (Dr Mattarozzi), and Neurology (Drs Stracciari, Vignatelli, D'Alessandro, and Guarino) and Internal Medicine (Dr Morelli) Units, S Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, Bologna, Italy.

Arch Neurol. 2004;61(2):242-247. doi:10.1001/archneur.61.2.242

Background  The long-term effects of liver transplantation (LT) on minimal hepatic encephalopathy are poorly documented.

Objective  To assess the cognitive performance of patients with cirrhosis and without overt encephalopathy, before and after LT.

Design  Longitudinal study comparing cognitive performance of patients with cirrhosis before LT and 6 to 18 months after LT, with matched control patients.

Setting  University medical center.

Results  Six months after LT, patients had improved their performance in visuospatial and selective attention, visuospatial short-term and long-term memory, and language tasks. After 18 months, a further improvement was found for selective attention and verbal short-term memory, while no other cognitive functions varied over time.

Conclusions  The present findings confirm preliminary studies showing that LT improves cognitive functions in patients with cirrhosis. The cognitive improvement is not generalized, but appears prominent in attention and memory and, once achieved, remains stable. Rates of recovery differ, being early for some functions and later for others.