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Ann Surg. Apr 1976; 183(4): 386–391.
PMCID: PMC1344209

L-dopa in hepatic coma.

Abstract

The use of L-Dopa in hepatic coma has been the subject of numerous reports since 1970. The following represents our experience with a rather heterogenous group of patients treated at the Massachusetts General Hospital over the past 4 years. Thirty-five patients with severe liver disease, a mean age of 53 +/- 3.5 years, including nutritional cirrhosis with acute coma and acute hepatitis were treated. Four patients were judged grade III, 31 patients grade IV. All patients had previously been treated with protein restriction, orally administered non-absorbable antibiotics, fluid and electrolytes, and in some cases, steroids. L-Dopa was given orally in 21 patients, and as a retention enema in 14. Thirteen of the 35 patients did not respond to therapy. Seventeen responded, but did not survive, and 5 patients responded and survived. There was no difference between any of the groups as far as dosage of L-Dopa and clinical features. The one striking finding as the differences between groups was the time of initiation of L-Dopa therapy. In Group I, the survivors, therapy was started within 1.4 +/- 0.8 days after the onset of coma. In Group II, there was an initiation of therapy at 6.7 +/- 1.6 days, and in the non-responders 9.5 +/- 1.6 days. These differences are highly significant. The results suggest that coma may pass from a reversible to an irreversible stage, and that L-Dopa therapy initiated early in the course of hepatic coma, may be of some benefit.

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Selected References

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