The purpose of the present investigation was to study changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF) in hepatic encephalopathy, to ascertain whether this was related to the changes in liver function and whether these changes gave any prognostic information. CBF, determined by the intravenous xenon-133 method, and liver functions, assessed by the prothrombin index, bilirubin concentration, and the galactose elimination capacity, were studied in patients with acute fulminant liver failure and in patients with encephalopathy due to chronic liver diseases--that is, cirrhosis of various etiologies. The CBF range in healthy young subjects (age, 23-42 years) was 44-61 ml/100 g/min; in patients with grade I + II encephalopathy (mean +/- SEM) it was 32.8 +/- 3.6 ml/100 g/min in acute (n = 4; age, 28 +/- 8 years) and 37.0 +/- 3.3 ml/100 g/min in chronic liver patients (n = 10; age, 51 +/- 2 years). In grade III + IV encephalopathy it was 28.7 +/- 3.8 ml/100 g/min in acute (n = 8; age, 28 +/- 3 years) and 32.9 +/- 3.7 ml/100 g/min in chronic patients (n = 12; age, 49 +/- 3 years). CBF did not correlate with the liver function and was of no prognostic value. The liver function was markedly reduced in all the patients, without any differences between patients with acute or chronic liver diseases or the different degrees of hepatic encephalopathy. In conclusion, a marked reduction of the CBF was seen in hepatic encephalopathy, irrespective of the etiology of the disease.
Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 1989, Vol 24, Issue 3, p. 299-303