BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuHepatocerebral degenerationChronic acquired (Non-Wilsonian) hepatocerebral degeneration; Hepatic encephalopathy; Portosystemic encephalopathyHepatocerebral degeneration is a brain disorder that occurs in people with liver damage. Causes This condition may occur in any case of acquired liver failure, including severe hepatitis.HepatitisHepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Liver damage can lead to the buildup of ammonia and other toxic materials in the body. This happens when the liver doesn't work properly. It does not break down and eliminate these chemicals. The toxic materials can damage brain tissue.Specific areas of the brain, such as the basal ganglia, are more likely to be injured from liver failure. The basal ganglia help control movement. This condition is the "non-Wilsonian" type. This means that the liver damage is not caused by copper deposits in the liver. This is a key feature of Wilson disease.Wilson diseaseWilson disease is an inherited disorder in which there is too much copper in the body's tissues. The excess copper damages the liver and nervous sys...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Symptoms Symptoms may include:Difficulty walking Impaired intellectual function Jaundice Muscle spasm (myoclonus) Rigidity Shaking of arms, head (tremor) Twitching Uncontrolled body movements (chorea) ChoreaJerky body movement is a condition in which a person makes fast movements that they cannot control and that have no purpose. These movements interru...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Tremor of the hand when the wrist is extended (a also called a flapping tremor) Unsteady walking (ataxia) AtaxiaUncoordinated movement is due to a muscle control problem that causes an inability to coordinate movements. It leads to a jerky, unsteady, to-and-fr...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Exams and Tests Signs include:Coma ComaDecreased alertness is the most severe state of reduced awareness and is a serious condition. A coma is a state of decreased alertness from which a p...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Fluid in the abdomen that causes swelling (ascites) AscitesAscites is the build-up of fluid in the space between the lining of the abdomen and abdominal organs.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Gastrointestinal bleeding from enlarged veins in the food pipe (esophageal varices)A nervous system (neurological) exam may show signs of:Dementia DementiaDementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Involuntary movements Walking instabilityLaboratory tests may show a high ammonia level in the bloodstream and abnormal liver function.Other tests may include:MRI of the head MRI of the headA head MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the brain and surrounding...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article EEG (may show general slowing of brain waves) EEGAn electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test to measure the electrical activity of the brain.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article CT scan of the headCT scan of the headA head computed tomography (CT) scan uses many x-rays to create pictures of the head, including the skull, brain, eye sockets, and sinuses.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Treatment Treatment helps reduce the toxic chemicals that build up from liver failure. It may include antibiotics (rifaximin) or a medicine such as lactulose, which lowers the level of ammonia in the blood.A treatment called branched-chain amino acid therapy may also:Improve symptoms Reverse brain damageThere is no specific treatment for the neurologic syndrome, because it is caused by irreversible liver damage. A liver transplant may cure the liver disease. However, this operation may not reverse the symptoms of brain damage. Outlook (Prognosis) This is a long-term (chronic) condition that may lead to irreversible nervous system (neurological) symptoms.The person may continue to get worse and die without a liver transplant. If a transplant is done early, the neurological syndrome may be reversible. Possible Complications Complications include:Hepatic coma Hepatic comaLoss of brain function occurs when the liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood. This is called hepatic encephalopathy (HE). This problem ma...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Severe brain damage When to Contact a Medical Professional Contact your health care provider if you have any symptoms of liver disease. Prevention It is not possible to prevent all forms of liver disease. However, alcoholic and viral hepatitis may be prevented.To reduce your risk of getting alcoholic or viral hepatitis:Avoid risky behaviors, such as IV drug use or unprotected sex. Don't drink, or drink only in moderation. Open ReferencesReferencesGarcia-Tsao G. Cirrhosis and its sequelae. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 144.Haq IU, Tate JA, Siddiqui MS, Okun MS. Clinical overview of movement disorders. In: Winn HR, ed. Youmans and Winn Neurological Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 84.AllVideoImagesTogLiver anatomy - illustration The liver serves a wide variety of body functions, including detoxifying blood and producing bile that aids in digestion.Liver anatomyillustrationLiver anatomy - illustration The liver serves a wide variety of body functions, including detoxifying blood and producing bile that aids in digestion.Liver anatomyillustrationRelated Information Review Date: 10/28/2020 Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. 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