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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Oct;34(8):853-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04808.x. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

Randomised clinical trial: rifaximin improves health-related quality of life in cirrhotic patients with hepatic encephalopathy - a double-blind placebo-controlled study.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, USA.



Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a brain disorder that often results from cirrhosis due to viral hepatitis, metabolic and alcohol-related liver disease, and is characterised by cognitive, psychiatric and motor impairments. Recurrent bouts of overt HE negatively impact daily functioning and quality of life.


To evaluate the effect of rifaximin on health-related quality of life (HRQL) in cirrhotic patients with HE.


Patients with cirrhosis in remission from HE (Conn score = 0 or 1) and a documented history of recurrent HE episodes (≥2 within 6 months of screening) were randomised to rifaximin 550 mg twice daily (N = 101) or placebo (N = 118) for 6 months. Concomitant lactulose was permitted during the study. The Chronic Liver Disease Questionnaire (CLDQ) was administered every 4 weeks, and time for occurrence of HE breakthrough was recorded. A longitudinal analysis using time-weighted averages of the CLDQ scores normalised by days on study therapy was used to evaluate the effect of treatment on HRQL, and between HE outcomes (HE recurrence, yes/no) irrespective of treatment.


The time-weighted averages of the overall CLDQ score and each domain score were significantly higher in the rifaximin group vs. placebo (P-values ranged from 0.0087 to 0.0436); and were significantly lower in patients who experienced HE breakthrough compared to those who remained in remission (P-values were <0.0001).


Rifaximin significantly improved HRQL in patients with cirrhosis and recurrent hepatic encephalopathy. A lower HRQL may predict recurrence of hepatic encephalopathy.


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