Aim: To investigate the prevalence of minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE) and to assess corresponding health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in hospitalized cirrhotic patients in China.
Methods: This multi-center cross-sectional study included 16 teaching hospitals, which were members of "Hepatobiliary Cooperation Group, Society of Gastroenterology, Chinese Medical Association", from different areas of China carried out between June and October in 2011. All the eligible hospitalized cirrhotic patients (n = 538) were required to complete triplicate number connection tests combined with one digit symbol test for diagnosing MHE. Patients' clinical examination data were complemented by a modified questionnaire assessing HRQoL. Written informed consent was obtained from each patient.
Results: Male was predominant (68.6%) in 519 patients who met the criteria of the study, with a mean age of 49.17 ± 11.02 years. The most common cause of liver cirrhosis was chronic hepatitis B (55.9%). The prevalence of MHE was 39.9% and varied by Child-Pugh-Classification score (CPC-A: 24.8%, CPC-B: 39.4% and CPC-C: 56.1%, P < 0.01). MHE (P < 0.01) and higher CPC scores (P < 0.01) were associated with a high HRQoL scores (reflecting poorer quality of life). The prevalence of MHE was proportionate to CPC (P = 0.01) and high quality of life scores (P = 0.01).
Conclusion: Hospitalized cirrhotic patients have a high prevalence of MHE that is proportionate to the degree of liver function and HRQoL impairment.
Keywords: Child-Pugh Classification; China; Health-related quality of life; Liver cirrhosis; Minimal hepatic encephalopathy.