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Hepatic Encephalopathy

It is possible that the main title of the report Hepatic Encephalopathy is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • HE
  • portal-systemic encephalopathy

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Hepatic encephalopathy is a brain disorder that develops in some individuals with liver disease. Hepatic encephalopathy is a complex disorder that encompasses a spectrum or continuum of disease that ranges from a subtle condition with no outward signs or symptoms to a severe form that can cause serious, life-threatening complications. Symptoms are related to progressive dysfunction of the brain and may include personality changes, intellectual impairment, impaired memory and loss of consciousness (coma). Hepatic encephalopathy can occur in individuals with acute or chronic liver (hepatic) disease or in individuals whose liver is bypassed by a portosystemic shunt (with no liver disease present). A portosystemic shunt is an abnormal passageway that allows blood from the gastrointestinal tract to bypass the liver. They can be present at birth (congenital) or acquired during life. Hepatic encephalopathy is caused when toxins that are normally cleared from the body by the liver accumulate in the blood, eventually traveling to the brain. Many of the symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy are reversible when promptly detected and treated.


American Liver Foundation
39 Broadway, Suite 2700
New York, NY 10006
Fax: (212)483-8179
Tel: (800)465-4837

NIH/National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases
Office of Communications & Public Liaison
Bldg 31, Rm 9A06
31 Center Drive, MSC 2560
Bethesda, MD 20892-2560
Tel: (301)496-3583

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Tel: (301)496-5751
Fax: (301)402-2186
Tel: (800)352-9424
TDD: (301)468-5981

Canadian Liver Foundation
3100 Steeles Avenue East Suite 801
Markham Ontario, L3R 8T3
Tel: 4164913353
Fax: 9057521540
Tel: 8005635483

3 St. Andrews Place
London, NW1 4LB
United Kingdom
Tel: 02074860341
Fax: 02072242012

For a Complete Report:

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated: 4/18/2011
Copyright 2011 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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