OBJECTIVE: To determine precipitants of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) and their impact on hospital stay and mortality.
STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional, analytical study. Place and Duration of Study: The Aga Khan University Hospital, from January 2005 to December 2007.
METHODOLOGY: Consecutive patients admitted with different grades of HE were evaluated between January 2005 and December 2007. The precipitants of HE were correlated with the different grades of HE, and length of hospital stay and mortality. Chi-square test was used to compare the proportion of precipitating factors versus hospital stay and grade with significance at p<0.05.
RESULTS: Of the 404 patients 252 (62%) were males. Hepatitis C virus was the cause of cirrhosis in 283 (70%); Child Turcotte Pugh (CTP) class C was present in 317 (78%) patients. On presentation, 17% patients had grade 1 HE while 44%, 29% and 10% had grades 2, 3 and 4 respectively. The most common precipitant of HE was spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in 83 (20.5%), constipation in 74 (18.3%) and urinary tract infection in 62 (15.3%). One hundred and forty (35%) patients had (3) 2 precipitating factors while no precipitant was noted in 50 (12%) patients. Mean hospital stay was 4+/-3 days. The lesser the number of precipitants, shorter was the length of stay (p<0.01) and lesser was the grade of HE (p=0.025). Complete reversal of HE was noted in 366 patients (91%) while the remaining had grade 1 HE on discharge. Nine (2.2%) patients died during the hospital stay. No mortality was noted in patients without precipitants.
CONCLUSION: Patients presenting with (3) 2 precipitating factors and advanced grade of HE had a prolonged hospital stay. Moreover, patients without precipitants had better outcomes.