Impact of preoperative overt hepatic encephalopathy on neurocognitive function after liver transplantation


  • See Editorial on Page 121

  • Presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver, April 11-15, 2007, Barcelona, Spain, and published in abstract form [J Hepatol 2007;46(suppl 1):S35-S36].


In the current Model for End-Stage Liver Disease allocation system, patients are at risk of suffering repeated episodes of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) while waiting for an orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT); the posttransplantation impact of these episodes has not been well explored. We evaluated the cognitive function and quality of life in a group of OLT recipients (n = 25) who had suffered from overt HE prior to their procedure (HE-PreLT group) and compared their performance to that of a similar group of patients (n = 14) without overt HE (No HE-PreLT group) as well as to controls. Patients were selected from a cohort of 280 patients who underwent OLT during this period; the presence of clinical confounders excluded many of the remaining subjects. Demographic and clinical characteristics were balanced among groups. At an average of 18 months after OLT, we administered 2 neuropsychological batteries [Psychometric Hepatic Encephalopathy Score (PHES) test battery and Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS)]; a pyschophysiological test (critical flicker frequency); and the SF-36 quality of life score. The HE-PreLT group scored below controls in 5 of 6 cognitive domains tested by RBANS, 3 of 6 PHES subtests, as well as the critical flicker frequency test. The No HE-PreLT group scored below the controls in 1 of the 6 cognitive domains tested by RBANS. The more severe neurocognitive abnormalities seen in the HE-PreLT group did not appear to affect quality of life, as lower values than normative data were only found in 1 of the 8 SF-36 scales. In conclusion, neurocognitive abnormalities were more severe in liver transplant recipients that had suffered from overt HE prior to OLT. Prospective studies of neurocognitive function pre-OLT and post-OLT are needed to fully determine the impact of such abnormalities. Liver Transpl 15:184–192, 2009. © 2009 AASLD.