Source *Tampa General Medical Group, Tampa, FL †Tri-State Gastroenterology Associates ‡University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN §Greater Cincinnati Gastroenterology Associates, Cincinnati ∥Digestive Specialists, Inc, Dayton, OH.
GOALS: To evaluate the durability of the response to rifaximin for treatment of hepatic encephalopathy (HE).
BACKGROUND: The nonsystemic antibiotic rifaximin has been approved for maintenance of HE remission, and several studies have indicated the efficacy of rifaximin for acute HE; however, the duration of therapeutic response for >6 months remains unknown.
STUDY: Medical records of patients with cirrhosis who received rifaximin maintenance therapy for HE between January 2004 and May 2009 were reviewed. Model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) scores were obtained every 3 months during therapy.
RESULTS: Of 203 patients with HE (Conn score ≥2), 149 received rifaximin monotherapy (400 to 1600 mg/d) and 54 received rifaximin (600 to 1200 mg/d) and lactulose (90 mL/d) dual therapy. Maintenance of HE remission for 1 year occurred in 81% and 67% of patients who received rifaximin monotherapy and rifaximin and lactulose dual therapy, respectively. Patient populations with a baseline mean MELD score ≤20 had few overt HE events, suggesting increased response to rifaximin in these patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Rifaximin is effective for the management of HE in patients with cirrhosis, particularly in populations with MELD scores ≤20. Additional studies are needed to investigate the potential association between MELD scores and the efficacy of HE treatments.