Background & aims: Hyperintense globus pallidus on T1-weighted magnetic resonance images (MRIs) in cirrhotic patients are reported to reflect severity of liver disease; however, their consequence for hepatic encephalopathy is unknown. The aim of this study was to outline a pattern of neuropsychiatric abnormalities in chronic liver failure and its correlation with MRI findings.
Methods: Fifty-one consecutive patients were enrolled in the study. Neuropsychiatric assessment used a standardized protocol, including dichotomized neurological parameters, brief psychiatric rating and psychometric tests, as well as electroencephalography. The severity of liver failure was graded using standard laboratory parameters and the Child-Pugh's classification. Signal intensity of the globus pallidus was determined on sagittal T1-weighted MRIs.
Results: Two aspects of neurological dysfunction could be distinguished by principal components analysis: impairment of complex cerebral function and subcortical motor performance. Both neurological categories correlated with severity of liver failure, grade of electroencephalographic abnormalities, and psychometric test results. Additionally, prior bouts of overt encephalopathy indicate progressive dementia. T1-weighted globus pallidus signal intensity did not correlate with any clinical or laboratory test result.
Conclusions: This study shows a characteristic pattern of neurological findings in patients with liver failure and hyperintense globus pallidus on T1-weighted MRIs. Although neurological dysfunction parallels hepatic failure, MRI abnormalities of basal ganglia do not indicate severity of actual hepatic encephalopathy.