This condition is temporary or permanent damage to the brain. The most common cause is an illness or condition that affects the liver. Toxins build up in the bloodstream because the liver is not working normally.
Normal Oxygen Flow to Brain
An interruption of this flow can lead to metabolic encephalopathy.
Imaging studies of the brain (
)—may be done to evaluate other causes
Hospitalization and Emergency Care
In the hospital, the staff will treat the problems that caused the condition. They will try to remove or neutralize toxins that have built up in the bloodstream. The goal is to reverse the underlying condition. But, brain injury can still occur. In some cases, brain injury is permanent.
Medications may be used to:
Treat the condition
You may need to eat a
to help lower blood ammonia levels. (The body creates ammonia when it metabolizes and uses protein.) You may have other changes in your diet.
Tube feeding and life support may be needed, especially in the case of coma.
If this condition is due to organ failure, you may need a
To help reduce your chance of getting this condition, take the following steps:
Get early treatment for liver problems. If you have liver problems and any of the above symptoms, call your doctor right away.
If you have a disease (such as cirrhosis), see your doctor regularly.
Avoid overdosing. Avoid being exposed to poisons or toxins.
Bernuau J. Acute liver failure: avoidance of deleterious co-factors and early specific medical therapy for the liver are better than late intensive care for the brain (review).
Butterworth RF. Role of circulating neurotoxins in the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy: potential for improvement following their removal by liver assist devices.
. 2003;23(suppl 3):5-9. Review.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a