Background and aim: Hepatic encephalopathy is a frequent complication of cirrhosis. The present retrospective investigation was conducted to characterize metabolic alterations in cirrhotic patients with and without hepatic encephalopathy. We tested the hypothesis that reduced nutritional status or the degree of tissue catabolism are associated with the presence of hepatic encephalopathy.
Methods: We investigated 223 patients with histologically confirmed nonalcoholic cirrhosis without hepatic encephalopathy and with hepatic encephalopathy (grades 1-3). To assess liver function, nutritional status, and energy metabolism, a variety of biochemical and clinical tests were performed including anthropometric measurements, bioelectrical impedance analysis, and indirect calorimetry.
Results: Nutritional status and tissue catabolism were not significantly different between patients with and without hepatic encephalopathy.
Conclusions: Our data do not support the hypothesis that malnutrition or tissue catabolism are independent risk factors for the presence of hepatic encephalopathy in patients with nonalcoholic cirrhosis.