Neurology Unit, Department of Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria.
BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS:
A wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders occur in patients with liver cirrhosis without overt hepatic encephalopathy. Cognitive dysfunctions do occur and these tend to impair patients' vocational and social life as well as activities of daily living. The aim of this study is to evaluate cognitive functions in patients with liver cirrhosis without overt HE in Nigeria.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
Thirty-four patients with liver cirrhosis and 41 normal subjects as control were studied. Medical history and general physical/neurological examinations were carried out on all the subjects. Blood samples were obtained for viral serological markers and liver functions tests. The 'Fepsy' automated neuropsychological test battery was performed for the assessment of auditory reaction time (psychomotor speed). Recognition memory test (memory), binary choice reaction task (psychomotor speed/attention) and vigilance task were also administered. The data were analysed with the aid of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 15.0 software.
The mean age of patients with liver cirrhosis was 45.00±13.83years, while that of control subjects was 41.88±139.49years. The visual/auditory reaction time, binary choice reaction time and computerised visual reaction time were prolonged in patients with liver cirrhosis when compared with control subjects. However, there were differences in the recognition memory test and vigilance performances between the two groups. The patients with liver cirrhosis who had hepatitis C virus infection had poor psychomotor speed when compared with patients who were hepatitis C virus negative, but there was no statistical significant correlation between other aspects of liver function tests and cognitive functions in patients with cirrhosis.
Patients with liver cirrhosis had similar cognitive functions on measures of memory and vigilance when compared with normal control subjects. However, there were significant differences in other aspects of cognitive functions between the two groups.