Introduction: The aim of the study was to investigate the significance of factors associated with minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE) in cirrhotic patients.
Material and methods: Between September 2012 and August 2013, 60 cirrhotic patients, including MHE and non-MHE (NMHE) patients, were included in the study. Associated factors and clinical factors were analyzed to see if they were significantly different between MHE and non-MHE patients. Upon identifying the factors showing differences, we applied multivariate regression analysis to further decide which were the most significant ones to differentiate MHE from NMHE patients.
Results: There were 26 patients diagnosed with MHE and 34 with NMHE. Our results demonstrated that the prevalence rate of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) was highly associated with patients with MHE (65.4%, 17 out of 26), in contrast to the rate in NMHE patients (8.8%, 3 out of 34). We also found that factors including age, education level, intelligent test results, plasma albumin level and plasma ammonia levels were significantly different between MHE and NMHE patients. Ultimately, with logistic regression analysis, we found that SIBO was the most significant factor differentiating MHE patients from NMHE patients (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: In cirrhotic patients, SIBO was highly associated with MHE. This may further our understanding of the mechanisms of MHE and help to develop potential therapeutic interventions to treat cirrhotic patients with MHE.
Keywords: minimal hepatic encephalopathy; multivariate regression analysis; small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.