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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Aug 30. pii: S1542-3565(19)30969-3. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2019.08.047. [Epub ahead of print]

Comparative Efficacy of Treatment Options for Minimal Hepatic Encephalopathy: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis.

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Department of Hepatology, Chandigarh, India. Electronic address:
Department of Paediatrics, Chandigarh, India.
Department of Hepatology, Chandigarh, India.
Department of Gastroenterology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama.



We aimed to synthesize evidence for most effective treatments for minimal hepatic encephalopathy (HE) and prevention of overt HE in patients with cirrhosis.


We performed a systematic search of the PubMed, EMBASE, OvidSP, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases through July 26, 2018, for randomized controlled trials evaluating treatments for minimal HE in patients with cirrhosis, with primary outcomes of reversal of minimal HE or prevention of overt HE. We conducted a meta-analysis and then used network meta-analysis and surface under cumulated ranking (SUCRA) to pool the direct and indirect estimates and rank the different treatments. We appraised study quality using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system.


Our meta-analysis and network meta-analysis included 25 trials, comprising 1563 participants. Agents found to be effective in reversing minimal HE compared with placebo or no treatment included rifaximin (odds ratio [OR], 7.53; 95% predictive interval [PrI], 4.45-12.73; SUCRA, 89.2%; moderate quality), lactulose (OR, 5.39; 95% PrI, 3.60-8.0; SUCRA, 67.2%; moderate quality), the combination of probiotics and lactulose (OR, 4.66; 95% PrI, 1.90-11.39; SUCRA, 52.4%; low quality), L-ornithine L-aspartate (OR, 4.45; 95% PrI, 2.67-7.42; SUCRA, 47.2%; low moderate quality), and probiotics (OR, 3.89; 95% PrI, 2.52-6.02; SUCRA, 34.1%; low quality). Agents found to be effective in preventing episodes of overt HE compared with placebo or no treatment included L-ornithine L-aspartate (OR, 0.19; 95% PrI, 0.04-0.91; SUCRA, 75.1%; high moderate quality), lactulose (OR, 0.22; 95% PrI, 0.09-0.52; SUCRA, 73.9%; moderate quality), and probiotics (OR, 0.27; 95% PrI, 0.11-0.62; SUCRA, 59.6%; low quality).


In a meta-analysis of data from 25 trials, we found rifaximin and lactulose to be most effective for reversal of minimal HE in patients with cirrhosis. L-ornithine L-aspartate and lactulose are most effective in the prevention of overt HE. Lactulose was the only agent that was effective in reversing minimal HE, preventing overt HE, reducing ammonia, and improving quality of life, with tolerable adverse effects.




Antibiotic; Chronic Liver Disease; Cognition; Hepatic Insufficiency


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