Background & Aims In spite of the high incidence of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) in cirrhosis, there are few observational studies. Methods We performed an analysis to define the characteristics of HE and associated features using the database of the Canonic Study. Clinical, laboratory and survival data of 1348 consecutive cirrhotic patients admitted with an acute decompensation were compared according to the presence (n = 406) or absence of HE and of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) (n = 301). Results HE development was independently associated with previous HE episodes; survival probabilities worsen in relation to the presence and grade of HE. There were marked differences between HE associated (n = 174) and not associated (n = 286) to ACLF. HE not associated with ACLF occurred in older cirrhotics, inactive drinkers, without severe liver failure or systemic inflammatory reaction and in relation to diuretic use. In contrast, HE associated with ACLF occurred in younger cirrhotics, more frequently alcoholics, with severe liver failure and systemic inflammatory reaction, and in relation to bacterial infections, active alcoholism and/or dilutional hyponatremia. Prognosis was relatively preserved in the first and extremely poor in the second group. Independent risk factors of mortality in patients with HE were age, bilirubin, INR, creatinine, sodium, and HE grade. Conclusions In cirrhosis, previous HE identifies a subgroup of patients that is especially vulnerable for developing new episodes of HE. The course of HE appears to be different according to the presence of ACLF.
- Acute-on-chronic liver failure
- Hepatic encephalopathy
- Risk factors