Department of Neurology, Hannover Medical School, 30623, Hannover, Germany, email@example.com.
The term "hepatic encephalopathy" (HE) covers the neuropsychiatric syndrome associated with acute, chronic and acute-on-chronic liver disease (CLD). This paper deals with clinical features and diagnosis of HE in patients with liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension or porto-systemic shunts. The possible impact of concomitant disorders and the cirrhosis underlying liver disease upon brain function is described emphasizing the need of a detailed diagnostic work up of every individual case before diagnosing HE. Currently used methods for diagnosing minimal or covert hepatic encephalopathy are compared with regard to their sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing HE against the background of a multitude of concomitant disorders and diseases that could contribute to brain dysfunction.