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Comparison of the most favoured methods for the diagnosis of hepatic encephalopathy in liver transplantation candidates
  1. Annemarie Goldbecker1,2,
  2. Karin Weissenborn1,2,
  3. Golschan Hamidi Shahrezaei1,2,
  4. Kambiz Afshar1,2,
  5. Stefan Rümke1,2,
  6. Hannelore Barg-Hock3,
  7. Christian P Strassburg4,5,
  8. Hartmut Hecker6,
  9. Anita Blanka Tryc1,2
  1. 1Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) Transplantation, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
  2. 2Clinic for Neurology and Neurophysiology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
  3. 3Clinic for Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
  4. 4Clinic for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
  5. 5Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Bonn, Bonn, Germany
  6. 6Institute for Biometry, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anita Blanka Tryc, Clinic of Neurology, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, Hannover 30623, Germany; tryc.anita{at}


Objective Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a common complication of liver insufficiency. While there is widespread acceptance of its importance, there is no consensus on how best to diagnose and monitor HE.

Objective To compare the four most favoured methods for the diagnosis of HE.

Design 170 patients who were on the waiting list for liver transplantation as well as 86 healthy controls were included in the study. All patients and controls underwent the portosystemic encephalopathy syndrome test yielding the psychometric hepatic encephalopathy score (PHES), the repeatable battery for the assessment of neuropsychological status (RBANS), the inhibitory control test (ICT) and critical flicker frequency (CFF) measurement.

Results PHES and ICT targets had the best sensitivity (85.7% vs 85.7%) and specificity (96.5% vs 97.6%) for the diagnosis of overt HE. CFF showed inferior sensitivity (40.9%) for the diagnosis of HE and dependency from previous alcohol abuse (p=0.015). Multiple regression analysis showed that all test results apart from PHES were influenced by secondary diagnoses such as diabetes mellitus and renal insufficiency.

Conclusions In the German population of patients awaiting liver transplantation, PHES is the most robust method for the diagnosis and follow-up of HE.

  • Brain/Gut Interaction
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy

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