Early hepatic encephalopathy is characterized by deficits in motor performance, visual perception, visuo-constructive abilities and attention.
Whether defective memory is a feature of early hepatic encephalopathy remains controversial.
Dr Karin Weissenborn and colleagues in Hannover, Germany, attempted to resolve this controversy by analysing memory function in 45 patients with early hepatic encephalopathy.
Memory tests were applied to cirrhotic patients with minimal, grade 0, or grade 1 hepatic encephalopathy and the results were compared with those seen in 52 control subjects.
Tasks included short and long term memory tests requiring free recall or recognition.
Patients with early hepatic encephalopathy scored lower than the controls in all of the memory tasks.
| Patients' deficits were in attention and visual perception, rather than memory.
|Journal of Hepatology|
Dr Weissenborn’s team conducted a detailed analysis of test performance, which revealed that the patients' deficits were in attention and visual perception, rather than memory.
Dr Weissenborn concludes “Although patients with early hepatic encephalopathy score lower than controls in memory tasks, this is predominantly because of deficits in attention and visual perception.”