Comparative evaluation of visual, somatosensory, and auditory evoked potentials in the detection of subclinical hepatic encephalopathy in patients with nonalcoholic cirrhosis

Am J Gastroenterol. 1990 Jul;85(7):799-803.


To objectively determine the incidence of subclinical hepatic encephalopathy (SHE) and the relative sensitivity of different evoked potentials for its detection, 22 nonalcoholic cirrhotics without clinically detectable neurological abnormality and an equal number of matched healthy controls were studied. Of the three evoked potentials, visual evoked potential (VEP) studied by the pattern shift reversal method was not found to be abnormal in any patient. Short latency somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP) was abnormal in one (4.5%) and brain stem auditory evoked potential (BAEP) in nine (41%) patients. There was little advantage of performing both BAEP and SSEP in a patient, since the two together were abnormal in 10 (45.5%) patients, with SSEP adding only one more patient. Interpeak latencies I-III, III-V, and I-V in BAEP test were found to be the most sensitive parameters for the detection of SHE. Our results argue in favor of BAEP as the single investigation of choice for the objective assessment of SHE in patients with cirrhosis of the liver.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory*
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual*
  • Female
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / diagnosis*
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / etiology
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged